A win at the Camp Nou would all but ensure a safe passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League for Totteham, but that certainly won’t be easy.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has been singing the praises of Harry Kane and Mauricio Pochettino in his pre-match press conference.
If Spurs slip up, Inter lie waiting in the wings to take their place as runner up in Group B, with the Italians facing PSV in Milan.
“We’re expecting a hard match because they have a great foundation from a tactical and physical point of view,” said Valverde. “Our intention is to go out to win the game, like we have done so far. We will respect the competition and we want to win.”
With the Catalan giants already qualified, Valverde is expected to make changes to the side that won convincingly at Espanyol on Saturday. Former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been ruled out while the likes of Thomas Cillessen, Thomas Vermaelen and Munir could all come into the team.
Barcelona were 4-2 winners at Wembley in Match Day 2 of this season’s Champions League against a Spurs side without either Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli. Valverde recognises the impact they might have: “I expect the two to play tomorrow and they can be decisive.”
One Tottenham player who did feature in that defeat in London was Harry Kane: “He’s a world-class player. He links play well, he has a good shot on him, he’s good in the air – you can’t give him a metre.”
Barcelona’s manager has admitted that he isn’t surprised Tuesday’s counterpart, Mauricio Pochettino, has had such success in management: “His career has always been on the up. Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham – he’s one of those that is fighting to win the Premier League. He’s a regular in the higher positions in England.”
Pochettino spent seven years at Espanyol during his playing career before taking charge at the Barcelona-based club for three years at the start of his managerial one.
“When I was at Espanyol, we always felt the derbies (against Barcelona) a lot, that rivalry,” said Pochettino at the Camp Nou on Monday evening.
Tottenham’s Argentine coach isn’t expecting an easy ride in Spain: “”It will be a massive game. They have qualified for the next stage but in the Champions League no one is going to give a present.
“It will be a massive game. The mentality is going to be 200% to try to win. We are going to arrive in the best condition, but Barcelona are one of the best teams in Europe.”
The Camp Nou has turned into a fortress for Barcelona in the Champions League over the last few years. You’ll have to go back to 2013 to find the last time they lost at home in European competition – that’s 28 games unbeaten in front of their own fans.
Liverpool were the last English team to win at the Camp Nou in 2007 when goals from Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise secured a 2-1 win in the last 16. Chelsea were the most recent English visitors to the biggest stadium in Europe when they were beaten 3-0 back in March.