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Tottenham show they are on the cusp of Europe's elite

(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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15th February, 2018
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Despite an abysmal start to their Champions League encounter, which saw Juventus up 2-0 inside the opening ten minutes, Tottenham retaliated brilliantly to fight back and gain a 2-2 draw in Turin.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men will take this prideful stalemate back to Wembley Stadium in three weeks’ time for the second leg, with the advantage of scoring two away goals – a rare achievement when teams travel to the Allianz Stadium.

Gonzalo Higuain scored a nine-minute brace to start Juve on the front foot before Harry Kane pulled a goal back ten minutes heading into halftime, and Christian Eriksen completed the comeback with a free-kick midway through the second half.

Mousa Dembele was immense in midfield, displaying his physicality, technical ability and excellent passing, while Eriksen was at the forefront of most Spurs attacks, creating opportunities and getting himself on the scoresheet.

Overall, Tottenham will be thrilled to take a draw back to London.

It could even be argued Spurs deserved victory given their terrific showing after a horrible first 10 minutes. They had to deal with an atmosphere that epitomised what being in the knockout stages of the Champions League is all about, and there were signs of their 4-0 loss to Real Madrid in the 2011 quarter-finals.

But there are differences between that side, under Harry Redknapp, and the Spurs team that has been under Pochettino’s eye for the past three-and-a-half seasons.

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Although Tottenham have not reached the quarter-final stage since Redknapp was in charge, Pochettino has got this team into Europe in back-to-back seasons by finishing third and second in last two league campaigns respectively, something Redknapp was unable to accomplish.

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Although the Argentine manager has no trophies to show off during his reign at the helm, the club has undoubtedly progressed.

Tottenham silenced the Turin faithful thanks to a brilliant team showing.

Juve’s home form this season has been immense, losing only one home game and, more impressively, not conceding a goal in 2018. For Tottenham to go there and put in the stellar performance they did only further demonstrated their rise against Europe’s elite.

Spurs have played some excellent football against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and now Juventus in the last two weeks. It really is the English team’s tie to lose when the sides meet again.

A full house at Wembley will add drive to knock out a team that has reached the final twice in the last three seasons.

The exterior of Wembley Stadium, in the sun

Wembley. (Image supplied)

The visitors will be more aggressive, given they are behind on the away-goals rule, so must find the back of the net.

Pochettino definitely won the tactical battle, exposing Allegri’s compact set-up, virtually ensuring changes ahead of the return fixture.

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Does the former Southampton manager choose Heung Min-Son to start the second leg ahead of Erik Lamela? Will Blaise Matuidi be back in time for Allegri’s team in midfield?

Regardless, Tottenham have shown this season that they can compete against the world’s elite.

To outplay and outwit one of the best teams in the world really shows just how far Spurs have come, especially considering how they performed the previous campaign.

Last season they fell at the first hurdle, finishing third in a group that contained first-placed Monaco, second Bayer Leverkusen and bottom CSKA Moscow.

Their elimination from the group was even more disappointing. The team had been placed into the Europa League round of 32 against Belgian outfit KAA Gent, and lost 3-2 on aggregate. It hinted that the pressure of playing at Wembley – due to their new ground currently undergoing construction – was overwhelming the players.

However, this campaign the narrative flipped, as Spurs finished top of the group ahead of Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL. To go the whole group campaign undefeated and finish top ahead of Madrid and Dortmund, who have vast European experience, is a great triumph.

Recording a 3-1 win over a team like Madrid, who have won three of the past four Champions League trophies, at a packed Wembley Stadium showed that Spurs belong at this level.

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