Transition to Wembley no worry for Spurs

Mauricio Pochettino has dismissed suggestions Tottenham could struggle with the transition to Wembley when they host Monaco in the Champions League tonight.

Spurs are to play their European fixtures at the 90,000-capacity national stadium while their new ground - to succeed White Hart Lane, presently reduced to 32,000 - is being developed.

In addition to the change of environment that similarly undermined rivals Arsenal from 1998 to 1999, Spurs will be playing on a bigger pitch.

Pochettino’s high-intensity pressing and brand of football will likely prove more demanding given Wembley’s greater dimensions, but the manager has drilled his players on a new pitch of the same size at their Enfield training ground.

“We trust in us,” said the 44-year-old, who remains without the injured Danny Rose. “We believe in the way we play and it’s a good chance to play on a big pitch. We need to adapt our game.

“We feel good at White Hart Lane because it’s our home and we need to feel good at Wembley. With two pitches (at the training ground) we designed the same dimensions as Wembley. We change between the pitches to keep the grass at a good level. We use different pitches on different days during the week.

“You have more space to play, it’s more difficult for the opponent to press you when (there are) more metres to run, but the same for both.”

During Spurs’ run to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2011, the last time they qualified for the competition, their fixtures at White Hart Lane were particularly crucial.

They have won only once at Wembley since it was re- developed and re-opened in 2007, most recently losing 2-0 to Chelsea in the 2015 Capital One Cup final, but the manager is adamant their routine will remain unchanged.

“We need to go to Wembley and play, behave naturally and not try to find an excuse, that’s never good,” said Pochettino, whose team won 4-1 and drew 1-1 in two Europa League matches with Monaco last season. “We need to play and try to beat Monaco.

“Our pre-match routine will be same; we will arrive three and a half hours before the game. Parking will be easier than at White Hart Lane now, which is very difficult.”

Earlier it was announced Eric Dier, who played under Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim while the two were at Sporting Lisbon, had signed a new contract to remain at Spurs until 2021. “I feel like from there I’ve managed to kick on and keep improving and I hope to keep improving.”

Meanwhile Monaco have warned Radamel Falcao’s two years of frustration in English football could be felt at Wembley.

The striker arrived in England with Manchester United in 2014 with a reputation as one of the world’s most lethal strikers but scored only four times during a season-long loan before joining Chelsea on a similar deal.

After returning to parent club Monaco, Falcao is again playing first-team football.

He has yet had time to rediscover the level that made him so highly thought of, but both his team-mate Joao Moutinho believes it is only a matter of time before he does.

Moutinho said: “He probably didn’t have his greatest spell in football while he was here, but he was injured a lot of the time so didn’t manage a lot of minutes on the field.

The Falcao that I’m seeing right at the moment is a Falcao that’s really determined and working very hard.

“Let’s hope he puts in a good performance, maybe scores a goal or creates a couple of assists, that’d be great. Certainly the Falcao we’re seeing now is on form.”


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