Tottenham are facing a daunting task as they attempt to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second consecutive season. They will have to defeat Barcelona at the Nou Camp to make sure of their progression. Alternatively, they would be left relying on PSV Eindhoven to beat Inter Milan. It is difficult to see the Eredivisie champions doing them any favours on Tuesday. Although Los Cules aren’t the dominant side they once were, they do have arguably the best player in the history of the game in their team. It will be a tough ask for the Mauricio Pochettino to oversee a historic victory.
Barcelona will be desperate to get back among the elite with a challenge in the Champions League this season. It would be foolish to rule out Real Madrid, but the current holders have had an awful start to the season and it would be a surprise if they were able to retain their crown for yet another season. That opens up the possibility to other giant European clubs in this competition and their La Liga counterparts will be hoping that the trophy remains in Spain.
After five matches, Inter Milan and Tottenham are level on seven points. This is leading to a fascinating final round of fixtures, but the expectation is that the former will progress to the next stage. The one potential reason for a surprise at the Nou Camp is that Barcelona have nothing riding on the game. They are already guaranteed to finish in top position and therefore, they might not be at full throttle on Tuesday. That said, this is an elite group of players and they rarely ever have motivational problems.
Barcelona have scored two or more goals in nine of their last 12 matches across all competitions.
Dele Alli became the third player to score 50+ goals across all competitions since the beginning of 2015-16 campaign after Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. No other Premier League club has more than two players that have reached this landmark.
His teams may not have had the trophy-laden 2018 that he would have hoped, but there is no doubting that Lionel Messi remains the most talented individual in the world of football. The Argentine proved that again on Saturday as he scored a spectacular free-kick in the local derby contest with Espanyol. Messi then followed that up with another strike to make it 4-0. His consistency remains at a high level and it has got to the point that his incredible goal-scoring form is expected, thus taking him out of the running for individual honours. Unlike others in the game, that recognition isn’t central for the Barcelona man, but he will be looking to win another Champions League medal this season. The magician has scored six goals in his three appearances this season and if he continues to dominate in that fashion, Barcelona look to be the runaway favourites to lift the trophy.
The Danish international was rested at the weekend, which means that Pochettino expects him to be a key man on Tuesday night as Tottenham attempt to complete the difficult task of winning at the Nou Camp. Eriksen is their most creative midfielder and can dominate games against top opposition. He will be relishing the opportunity to test himself against some of the best players in the world. In the past, the midfielder has been linked with a move to Barcelona and it could be that a match-winning display brings reignites those rumours. There is more to come from the 26-year-old this season and he will be looking at Tuesday as an opportunity to kick-start his campaign. In the Champions League, he has contributed two goals and one assist. If Tottenham are to progress, he will need to add to that tally this week.
Malcom will be unavailable for the home side. The Brazilian joins Rafinha, Arthur, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti on the sidelines. Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho are both expected to start for Los Cules.
Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier are both facing a battle to be fit, which leaves Pochettino with a selection dilemma at right-back. Kyle Walker-Peters may have to be thrown in at the deep end. Erik Lamela is struggling with a knock, while Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama and Davinson Sanchez will all miss out.
It is going to be difficult for Tottenham to win on Tuesday. Barcelona have world class players across the pitch and they showed their superiority during the earlier meeting of the two clubs. However, Spurs go into this fixture knowing that anything other than a win leaves them at risk of being eliminated and that will lead to an interesting game. It will be a great spectacle for the neutrals, but it is hard to see anything other than a home win given the calibre of players that Barcelona have to call upon.
Barcelona 2-1 Tottenham