UEFA Champions League – Group B preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Barcelona – Wembley Stadium – October 3, 2018 – 20:00 hrs BST – 1st leg clash
Tottenham Hotspur vs Barcelona Tips:
Bookmaker odds correct as of 02/10/2018 and subject to change.
Barcelona have been going through an unusual phase of three winless La Liga games against teams they would have normally steamrolled over. Adding insult to injury was a 1-2 loss to Leganes a week ago followed by a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao home at Nou Camp.
The European campaign for the Blaugrana got off to a flyer, though, with a 4-0 crushing of PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and Lionel Messi getting his first hat trick of the season.
The Catalan giants will be off to England for their next UCL fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on October 3rd.
Tottenham are not having the best of seasons and struggling to find a foothold in the Top Four of the Premier League. With 2 losses from 7 EPL games and 15 points to their credit, Spurs have somehow managed to squeeze into the space with a 0-2 weekend win over Huddersfield Town.
Their Champions League campaign, however, begun badly when they gave up a on a one-goal lead, conceding two shocking late goals to Inter Milan in a home outing at Wembley.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino's side is beset with injuries ahead of the vital UCL clash. A big setback could be the absence of Christian Eriksen, Del Alli and Hugo Lloris all of whom missed the Huddersfield match.
Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen are further additions to the injury list. With even the second-choice goal-keeper Michel Vorm looking doubtful for Wednesday's clash, Paulo Gazzaniga looks set to make only his third appearance of the season between the posts for the Spurs. Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko are folks who could come in and so could Davinson Sanchez in place of Vertonghen at the back.
So as things stand, if Pochettino adopts the 4-2-3-1 formation, Lucas Moura, Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela will line-up behind lone striker, Harry Kane.
Barca's Ernesto Valverde on the other hand may go for the 4-4-2 formation that will aim to block space for the Spurs in the middle.
If they are able to hold this formation effectively, the likes of Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Messi could find a lot of room to counter from the flanks.
Messi and Suarez will take on striking roles with Sergio Busquets, Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal playing behind them. The defense comprising of Nelson Semedo, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba have looked breachable as evinced from some of their recent games. But a Spurs side plagued by mass injuries, especially to such key players like Alli and Eriksen, may lack the attacking quality to capitalize on the visitor's defensive shortcomings.
A depleted Tottenham may find it difficult to get past a Barcelona side even though the latter may be struggling for form.
Bookmaker odds are on the Catalan club to take October 3rd's game at the Wembley. A 1-2 or 0-2 score line in favour of the Spanish side looks a possibility. The hosts will face the danger of elimination if they are not able to win this one, for they will have two very difficult return Group outings to Spain and Italy to contend with later on.
Probable lineup – Barcelona
Ter Stegen (goal); (4-4-2) Semedo, Lenglet, Pique, Alba; Busquets; Coutinho, Rakitic; Vidal; Messi, Suarez.
Probable lineup – Tottenham Hotspurs:
Gazzaniga (goal); (4-2-3-1) Trippier, D.Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Dembele, Dier; Moura, Son, Lamela; Kane.