While the myriad of questions will plague their hearts, there is however something certain, they will feel deserving of their place in the finals. Lucas Moura’s hat-trick, that epoch-making feat that snatched the North London side from the slow, suffocating grip of tears and ignominy.
When Tottenham’s players step onto the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid for the Champions League final showdown, there will be that sudden rush of emotion under the super charged atmosphere crackling with energy.
For the Spurs, the questions suppressed by Mauricio Pochettino’s chest-thumping charge in accented English rise to the foreground of the player’s mind. Will they get Spursy? How do they handle things at this stage? What if they win? Will they ever get this far again?
And now, amidst the din and the musical score of Zadok the Priest, there’s Liverpool before them. Led by the grinning, bear-hugging German with a knack for losing in the finals. Perhaps, there’s a chance. However, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino and the team also have a strange predilection for fumbling in pressure moments, which birth the term Spursy.
Again, it is why the game against Ajax in the semi-finals evinced that this Spurs side might just be different. Without their top marksman, Harry Kane, they dug in to produce a riveting performance, scoring three goals in one half to punch their ticket to the final.
Their entire Champions League journey this season has been a fecund display of digging deep. From the group stage, they had to battle back from a six point deficit to finish second ahead of Inter Milan. Moura’s (again) 85th minute strike in the final group game against Barcelona got them over the line.
Against Manchester City in the quarterfinal, although VAR came to the rescue in the stoppage time, Spurs battled hard scoring crucial goals in the 4-3 defeat to qualify on aggregate.
Against Liverpool in the finals, the Lilywhites could find their voice again after plowing deep into themselves for focus and motivation. Pochettino had the players walk on fire and break arrow tips with their throats to get them in the right frame of mind for the game. The needed mind over body exercise.
“We are going to arrive in perfect condition,” Pochettino said. “All of these strategies we’ve used have been to try to help us, the team, to connect with an energy that is so powerful. An energy that makes you feel invincible.”
Granted, Liverpool have also made their preparation to be in the best condition for the game. However, with both teams famed for their brutal physical exertions during the game, pressing high and hard. The battle might just be won by the team with the greater mental resolve as energy drains.
Harry Kane’s return
Harry Kane’s return from injury for the final will galvanise Spurs. Though Pochettino has said it will be tough to decide if Kane will start from the outset or if he sticks with the players that have flourished without the England striker. Moura and Son Heung Min have been phenomenal in the front line without Kane, scoring and assisting crucial goals that got Spurs to the final.
While Kane’s match rustiness could see him start from the bench, it is certain he will feature in the game. The striker makes Spurs look better on the pitch with his ability to drop deep and create opportunities for runners in behind. His goal-scoring touch and presence in the box also makes Spurs more of an offensive threat against Liverpool, as he will look to keep Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip occupied.
There is premium banter brewing, somewhere on the streets of London, Arsenal fans wait with bated breath willing evil upon Spurs after they lost in the Europa League final to Chelsea. Spurs have overtaken rivals Arsenal, finishing ahead of the Gooners in the Premier League for three seasons consecutively.
Spurs have made the Champions League in those years while Arsenal have had to settle for the second rate Europa League. Tottenham have the opportunity to win the Champions League for the first time in their history, and ahead of Arsenal.
It shows the progress made under Pochettino in his five year stint. Tottenham have built a stadium that cost in excess of £1bn, built a formidable side, worked with a lean transfer budget, and qualified for the Champions League for four consecutive seasons.
They are in the finals now, against Liverpool, and they’ll dig deep to lift the Big Ears for the first time in their history. With Pochettino’s impressive work at Spurs, they are due a trophy already. The Champions League will be one well-deserved.