(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur will find out if they can compete with Europe’s elite when they take on an experienced Juventus side in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, according to their manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs reached the knockout stage by topping Group H, which included Borussia Dortmund and holders Real Madrid, but their Argentine manager suggested on Monday that the biggest test of their campaign would be against the Italians.
“Tomorrow, we’ll see if we can compete at this level,” Pochettino told a news conference. “Juventus have plenty of experience and we need to reach their level with motivation, energy and the desire to compete.
“We are going to be brave, we are going to try to win. We need to play with freedom and clear ideas. It’s a game we must enjoy,” he added before they face a Juve side who have lost in two of the last three Champions League finals.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane said the ambitious London club, who move into a new stadium next season, were heading into the game with plenty of belief and he was hopeful they could take something back to Wembley for the return leg next month.
“Nobody expected us to get out of our group and so we come here with great confidence... It will be tough tomorrow night but hopefully we can get the job done,” he said.
Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld, who recently returned to action after a hamstring injury, did not travel with the squad after Pochettino decided to ease the Belgian back in.
“He had a massive injury and from day one we designed a plan to provide him with the best tools to recover as soon as possible and to be stronger than before,” the Spurs coach said.
“He has started to work with the team and it’s our judgement that he needs to build his fitness.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hayward