October 1, 2018 / 2:04 PM / 21 days ago

Pochettino relishes challenge against former arch rivals Barca

MADRID (Reuters) - Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is plotting Barcelona’s downfall safe in the knowledge he will never manage the Spanish giants, he told Spanish daily Marca.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group Stage - Group B - Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur - San Siro, Milan, Italy - September 18, 2018 Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino gestures during the match REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

Pochettino believes his past precludes him from ever taking charge at the Nou Camp, given he has been both a player and manager at cross-town rivals Espanyol, but he is thrilled at the prospect of tackling Barca in Wednesday’s Champions League tussle at Wembley.

“[Facing Barca] motivates me, being an Espanyol fan and living for so many years in Barcelona,” Tottenham’s Argentinian coach told the paper.

“It is more than understood [that I will never take over] ... My path and that of Barcelona are different, opposite directions. Coaching there would be impossible.”

Tottenham lost their Group B opener against Inter Milan and need to get back on track against a Barcelona side stinging from going three La Liga matches without a win.

“Winning a game is always nice and when you win against Barcelona, even more so, because that would mean something important for us,” Pochettino said.

“For me, (Lionel) Messi is still the number one (player in the world) and will be until he retires.”

Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by David Goodman

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