Mauricio Pochettino hopes his Tottenham Hotspur side’s qualification for the Champions League last 16 against the odds will be rewarded with a memorable first European night at their new stadium in February. A 1-1 draw in Barcelona on Tuesday meant Tottenham finished second in Group B to progress to the first knockout round where Juventus, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Paris St Germain are all possible opponents.
A series of delays to the north London club’s 62,000-seater new ground have meant Tottenham have been forced to continue playing home matches at Wembley this season and this week they announced that their game against Manchester United on Jan. 13 would also take place at the national stadium.
After next Monday’s draw the Champions League resumes with the last-16 first legs in mid-February. Governing body UEFA said a decision would be taken “before February” on where Tottenham will play the home leg of their last 16 tie.
Pochettino believes that playing in the new stadium would be a huge advantage for his team.
“I hope and I wish to play the first leg in the new stadium,” he told a news conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s home clash against Burnley.
“It would be a massive boost for players and staff to play at the new stadium but the motivation will be there too if we play at Wembley.
“We need to have the belief we can beat any opponents but of course it is going to be tough.”
Tottenham bounced back from a recent defeat by Arsenal in the league and consecutive wins have lifted them into third place in the Premier League behind only Manchester City and Liverpool.
Saturday’s match against struggling Burnley gives them the opportunity to cut the gap on leaders Liverpool to three points while next Wednesday they face Arsenal again in the quarter-final of the League Cup.
“We are playing for three very important points, to be in the Premier League top four, for me it is a massive motivation and it is going to be a tough game,” Pochettino said. “(Playing) every three days is always tough but we need to try to find the way to approach the game in the best condition.”
Pochettino will assess the fitness levels of few players in training before selecting his squad for the weekend.
The club confirmed defenders Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth (both hamstring) have both entered the late stages of conditioning work, while full-back Kieran Trippier (groin) continues his individual rehabilitation programme.
Burnley travel to Wembley seeking their first away win against Spurs in any competition since 1983.