Tottenham Hotspur to forget recent Wembley debacles in UEFA Champions League matches

Tottenham Hotspur will use the Wembley as their home stadium for their Champions league matches.

By: Reuters | London | Published:September 13, 2016 8:37 am
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Tottenham Hotspur have bitter recent experiences at Wembley but will try to make the stadium a home from home as they begin their second Champions League campaign against AS Monaco on Wednesday a few miles away from their own ground.

The north London club have sold 80,000 tickets for their Group E opener — boasting that the crowd will be the biggest home attendance for an English club in the competition.

They moved their Champions League matches to Wembley because their atmospheric White Hart Lane stadium has been reduced to a 31,000 capacity for its final season while a new 60,000-seat arena is built adjacent to their current ground.

Next season they will use the national stadium for all their fixtures as the old ground is bulldozed. Whether the vast expanse of Wembley will inspire Tottenham any more than the opposition is the big question, however, and it has not been a particularly happy hunting ground.

Of the five matches Spurs have played at the new Wembley only once did they triumph, against Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final, with each subsequent visit ending in disappointment.

The ‘old’ Wembley was also used by Arsenal for Champions League games in 1998 and 1999 and they hardly made it a fortress, winning twice, losing three times and drawing once before abandoning the experiment.

For the past year Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side have certainly played football worthy of a big stage.

They qualified automatically for the group phase of the Champions League after finishing third in the Premier League last season, having pushed title-winning Leicester City hardest until a buckling under the pressure at the death.

Early indications are that the squad will be challenging hard again at the top of the table with Saturday’s 4-0 win away to Stoke City their best performance of the season so far.

Striker Harry Kane ended his lean spell in that victory, registering his first goal of the season while Son Heung-min scored twice and Dele Alli once.

Kane, who won the Golden Boot award last season as the Premier League top scorer, said the team were relishing playing at Wembley as they try to lay down a marker in a competition in which they reached the quarter-finals in 2010-11.

“Wembley will be amazing. It’s going to be a record crowd for the club, it’s at our national stadium and it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere, amazing,” he said. “We’re all excited, we can’t wait.” Tottenham and Monaco have recent history.

They faced each other in the Europa League group stage last season, Spurs winning 4-1 at home with an Erik Lamela hat-trick having drawn 1-1 in the away tie.

But Monaco have shown early-season form and top Ligue 1, having crushed Lille 4-1 away at the weekend.

In Radamel Falcao, who is back from injury, they have a striker of proven pedigree and they also have the recent memory of a last-16 defeat of Arsenal in 2014-15.