Arguably the biggest game in Tottenham’s history is now finally upon us. The Champions League final is now here and for once Tottenham have a genuine selection headache at hand. Throughout the season it’s well and truly been injuries galore. Yet, they are now blessed with the return of Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Serge Aurier. So, who will play?
The return of Kane has presented Mauricio Pochettino with a conundrum. It’s the Champions League final — you play your best players. Yet, there’s one — and only one — reason that the north London club are in the final. Lucas Moura. His vital goal against Barcelona now all but forgotten after his miraculous second half hat-trick in Amsterdam. To score such crucial goals and still fail to secure a starting role would be sensational in itself.
Yet, there are now so many players that it seems implausible to leave out. Could Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli be dropped to the bench? It’s highly unlikely. Son Heung-min has done more than enough to demand a starting role, while Moussa Sissoko is simply irreplaceable. It’s certainly a difficult decision, but one Pochettino will be glad he can make.
With all available, it seems there are now three options. The first is that Kane starts on the bench with Moura retaining his place up top. There are certainly valid arguments to make for this permutation. Winks would most likely play alongside Sissoko in a midfield pairing that seemed so promising earlier in the season. It will entirely depend on Kane’s fitness. If he can only manage 60 minutes, you’d want him for the second half and potentially extra time. If fully fit, he starts. Simple.
The second possibility is that Kane will start with Moura on the bench. Again, it depends on fitness and again Winks would likely partner Sissoko. It would be a bold move from Pochettino but in reality it’s probably Tottenham’s best eleven. Moura is clearly more dangerous towards the end of the game. His introduction at a decisive stage would undoubtedly strike fear into the Liverpool defence.
The final option is that they both play. This is by far the most attacking, but also perhaps the most effective. Spurs’ second half against Ajax was simply outstanding. They took off Wanyama, who was largely a passenger, replacing him with Fernando Llorente up top. The presence of the Spaniard, as well as the sheer number of bodies in attack, caused havoc. Tottenham arguably will struggle to match Liverpool playing in a more cautious, controlled style. A more gung-ho approach could work well. Tottenham will still have game changers on the bench. Erik Lamela, Winks and Llorente could all be useful substitutes if the system were not to work.
This third system is the one Tottenham must deploy. Pochettino has been guilty of starting games with the wrong system, but they cannot afford to make the same mistake again. Kane, Moura and Son all on the pitch will give Liverpool’s defence a lot to think about. There’s pace, power and height. Alli and Eriksen have shown they can create from deeper and there’s no reason they can’t again.
The Premier League outfit must be brave, bold and aggressive if they are to overcome this resilient Liverpool side. Pochettino has always professed the need to be brave — and here’s his chance to practice what he preaches.
Tottenham fans, what do you think? Should Kane and Lucas both start? Or does this leave you short of options off the bench? Comment below.
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