Spurs face City’s test at CL quarters; Reds take on Porto - GulfToday

Spurs face City’s test at CL quarters


Manchester City players attend a training session at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Monday. Agence France-Presse

Hugo Lloris has endured a mistake-filled season, but the Tottenham goalkeeper knows his costly blunders will be forgotten if he can lead his side to Champions League success against Manchester City.

Lloris will captain Tottenham in Tuesday’s All-English quarter-final first leg showdown with City at the north London club’s new stadium.

And the France star will be firmly in the spotlight on what promises to be a busy evening given City’s attacking prowess.

With Tottenham bidding to reach their first European semi-final since the 1984 UEFA Cup, Lloris knows the team will need the vocal backing of the home support to rattle City.

Pep Guardiola’s Premier League title chasers are eyeing an unprecedented quadruple after reaching the FA Cup final and winning the League Cup already this season.

It should be a raucous occasion as Tottenham finally deliver on their much-derided promise that their £1 billion abode would be the only place in London to watch Champions League action this season. When Tottenham spent over half of this season playing at their temporary Wembley home due to delays in finishing the new arena, it appeared the PR boast, splashed on posters all around London, would come back to bite them.

But the sparkling 62,062-capacity stadium was opened amid much pomp for the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Now Lloris wants Tottenham to tap into the crowd’s passion in the same way Liverpool fed off the Anfield atmosphere in last season’s Champions League quarter-final win over City.

“At some moments in the game, we feel the power,” Lloris said.

“I think this can be a help for the team. We will need the crowd for every game.

“Of course, this is a big moment for the club. To be part of a quarter-final for the Champions League is a great opportunity.”

Lloris is well aware City imploded twice last season when faced with the intensity of the Anfield effect and he believes a repeat is possible in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“The target is to make City’s life harder. To be ready to compete from the first minute,” Lloris said.

“We know we’re going to have the help of the crowd and so we have just to enjoy the moment.

“When I say to enjoy, I mean to enjoy running, defending, attacking, to enjoy everything that can be decisive.”

Lloris has been well below his best for much of this term, with his latest clanger coming in the last minute of a damaging 2-1 defeat at Liverpool last weekend when he sparked a Toby Alderweireld own goal by spilling Mohamed Salah’s header.

The 32-year-old has shown alarmingly bad judgement all season.

Despite such a wretched run of form, Lloris has retained the support of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Reports in recent weeks claim Pochettino has no intention of looking for another keeper at the end of the season, such is his faith in Lloris.

Part of that belief is grounded in Lloris’s role as an influential figure in the dressing room.

Meanwhile, Sadio Mane has grown used to playing second fiddle to Mohamed Salah in the two seasons since the latter joined the Senegalese at Liverpool.

However, the fact Jurgen Klopp’s men top the Premier League in their quest to end a 29-year wait to win the title and face Porto in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final at Anfield on Tuesday, is largely thanks to Mane.

As Salah’s goals dried up in an eight-game drought prior to Friday’s 3-1 win at Southampton, Mane assumed the mantle as chief goal getter with 11 in his last 13 Liverpool appearances taking his tally for the season to 20.

That run included a double away to Bayern Munich last month that eased the five-time European champions past the German giants and eyeing another shot at Champions League glory.

His first goal in particular at the Allianz Arena was a demonstration in the 26-year-old’s pace, skill and calmness in front of goal.

Mane controlled a raking long pass from Virgil van Dijk, rounded Manuel Neuer and then dinked the ball into an unguarded net.

“I’m going to have to watch back 500 times,” admitted Klopp after the game. “It’s astounding what he did.”

Mane scored 10 Champions League goals in all last season, including in the final.

However, his brave header in Kiev to bring Liverpool briefly level was quickly forgotten amid the furore over Salah’s early shoulder injury that saw him hobble off and aided Real Madrid’s route to a third straight European title.

Agence France-Presse

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