Kane brushes off rest talk

England skipper Harry Kane is adamant he does not need rest following his efforts at the World Cup with the Three Lions over the summer.

The Spurs forward has featured in 13 games so far this season for his club and England, ahead of their clash with Spain in the Nations League on Monday.

Having scored six goals for club and country in the 16 games since scoring that many in three World Cup games in Russia, some have suggested Kane is having a dip in form and needs rest.

However, the 25-year-old claims he is happy with his fitness levels and has no intention of willingly taking a break.

"It's been tough after the World Cup, not getting much rest, but I think I've dealt with it well," said Kane.

"I've stayed fit and stayed healthy. That was my main priority at the start of the season. Now it's building on that and pushing forward over the winter.

"I set a standard for myself and I want to reach that standard every game I play. I don't think my game has dipped."

England are 19/4 to win, 3/1 to draw and 4/7 to lose to La Roja in Sevilla.

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Spurs confirm Vertonghen absence

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed that defender Jan Vertonghen is facing around another two months on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

The 31-year-old Belgium international has not featured for Spurs since the 2-0 Premier League victory at Huddersfield town at the end of September and is not expected to return before December.

A statement from Spurs confirmed: "Jan sustained a hamstring injury against Huddersfield Town on 29th September, which has been monitored closely over the past 12 days.

"Further investigation has shown a good initial response to rehabilitation. He will now continue his recovery with a view to returning to full training by December."

Vertonghen moved to Tottenham in the summer of 2012 from Ajax and has since racked up nearly 250 appearances in all competitions for the Londoners, while he was also a member of the Belgium squad who reached the semi-finals of World Cup 2018.

And Vertonghen has been given the backing of club and international team-mate Toby Alderweireld, who is confident that his colleague will come back stronger from his latest setback.

He told Sky Sports: "He is devastated he can't play but will try to come back as quickly as possible.

"If you're injured it's always mentally hard, but he will get through this and become stronger."

Spurs are back in action following the international break when they make the short trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham on Saturday October 20th.

They can be backed at 4/5 to defeat the Hammers, with the draw priced at 13/5, while Tottenham are 4/6 to finish the season in the top four in the Premier League.

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Agent plays down Eriksen fears

The agent of Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Christian Eriksen has rubbished suggestions that his client is suffering with a chronic abdominal injury.

Denmark head coach Age Hareide had suggested that the 26-year-old midfielder was potentially facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, having already missed four games due to the problem.

However, agent Martin Schoots has dismissed such talk, adding that he expects Eriksen to be able to return to action in the near future.

He told Standard Sport: "Some international media have translated Hareide's words badly. Christian has no chronic injuries – nobody has said that.

"He just has an injury related to some fatigue and, for that reason, he is having some rest. That is normal because otherwise it would not heal.

"Somebody has not translated well and Christian is doing everything to be back as soon as possible."

Hareide had earlier been quoted as telling Denmark's Canal 9: "Christian has an issue with an abdominal muscle and Tottenham have tried to say it's a long-term problem.

"It's been over a week and I know he's known about this problem for a while. Such an injury can become chronic and I think that's what Tottenham are fearing as well. Hopefully that won't happen with Christian."

Eriksen joined Spurs in the summer of 2013 from Dutch side Ajax and has since scored 57 goals in 232 appearances for the Londoners in all competitions.

Tottenham are available at 4/6 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, while they are 8/1 to lift the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history.

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Hareide raises Eriksen concerns

Denmark head coach Age Hareide has flagged up concerns that Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen could be struggling with a 'chronic' stomach injury.

The 26-year-old playmaker has missed the last four games played by Spurs, despite club boss Mauricio Pochettino being upbeat about the problem not being anything more than a short-term issue.

However, Hareide has suggested that the issue could turn out to be something more serious, having ruled out having Eriksen available for the upcoming clashes with the Republic of Ireland and Austria.

He told Denmark's Canal 9: "Christian has an issue with an abdominal muscle and Tottenham have tried to say it's a long-term problem.

"It's been over a week and I know he's known about this problem for a while. Such an injury can become chronic and I think that's what Tottenham are fearing as well.

"Hopefully that won't happen with Christian."

Meanwhile, Pochettino has dismissed suggestions that his club are under pressure to take the next step in their development by winning a major trophy in the near future.

The Argentinian told the Evening Standard: "People talk too much about Tottenham. Tottenham must win titles to improve, but that's not true.

"We can win a title, but it's not compulsory to win a title, that's the difference. Compulsory to the team that have spent a lot of money, but it's not the case for us."

Tottenham are available at 4/6 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, while they are 8/1 to lift the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history.

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Spurs response pleases Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino was proud of the way his Spurs team reacted to conceding an early goal to push Barcelona hard, before eventually losing out 4-2 at Wembley.

Former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho gave the visitors the lead inside two minutes, with Ivan Rakitic making the half-time score 2-0 to the Catalan giants.

However, the second half was a 2-2 draw, with Harry Kane and Erik Lamela netting for Tottenham and Lionel Messi adding a double for Barcelona.

And, while being annoyed by such an early concession, head coach Pochettino was full of praise for the reaction of his players as the game progressed.

He told reporters: "To concede a goal so early, we destroyed the plan. If we start the game this way, it's so tough for the players.

"We were handicapped after conceding after one minute and I think our players were heroes to chase the game against a team with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho.

"That is why I want to congratulate the team, because we were always in the game, always fighting, never giving up – I feel so proud. I'm disappointed with the result, but the effort was massive.

"To give that advantage to a team like Barcelona is so difficult to come back from. The most important thing was our character."

Spurs are back in Premier League action on Saturday when they welcome in winless Cardiff City.

The Londoners are 1/4 to win the game and 15/2 to claim a 3-0 victory, with Tottenham 8/13 to go on and secure a top-four finish this season.

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Champions League: Magnificent Messi Lights Up Wembley

Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Barcelona

As Champions League games go, this was as enthralling as it had always promised to be.

From the first whistle to last, us fans who expected a compelling encounter weren’t disappointed.

And on a night which will live long in the memory of neutrals, the majestic Lionel Messi had the final word.

Highlights of the game

The Champions League 2018 odds favoured Barcelona, and it took just 92 seconds before they had the advantage at Wembley.

Hugo Lloris hadn’t played for over a month, and it looked like the Spurs goalkeeper was in a world of his own in his first game back since their win at Old Trafford late last August.

The French World Cup winning captain came excitedly off his line when he didn’t need to, and the quick-thinking Jordi Alba played the ball into the path of Philippe Coutinho who drilled it into an empty net from 20 yards.

The bunch of home defenders and fans looked stunned as Lloris, trying to sweep up, was left stranded and Barcelona had their dream start.

It was a goal that Tottenham failed to recover from in a first half in which the Catalans oozed class on their return to the scene of their 2011 Champions League triumph.

Barcelona forward Philippe Coutinho put his side ahead after just two minutes in the Champions League

Barcelona forward Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during their Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur

One became two before the half-hour mark as Coutinho pulled the back to Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, whose 25-yard volley flew past Lloris and in via the post. It was another sumptuous finish, though this time Lloris could not be blamed.

The Spurs were spirited and, had Song Heung-Min’s reply not been disallowed moments later for a handball in the build-up, it may have been game-on.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen also kept out a deflected Lucas Moura cross to further frustrate the hosts, but it was almost game over within seconds of the restart as Messi swept forward with ease and beat Lloris only to see his shot come back off the post.

When the Argentine maestro, unplayable at times, struck the post again moments later, Tottenham were counting their lucky stars.

Incredibly, the hosts found themselves immediately back into a contest when they could easily have been 0-4 down.

Son deceived visiting defender Nelson Semedo and Harry Kane showed his class with an expertly placed finish.

Almost affronted by being pegged back when they were so dominant, Barcelona replied almost instantly.

This time, Messi was third time lucky and not to be denied as Alba cut the ball back, Coutinho and Luis Suarez left it and the No.10 caressed it beyond Lloris.

It was no more than the Catalans deserved.

They were unfortunate when, 10 minutes later, Erik Lamela’s shot took a deflection off Clement Lenglet and looped over Ter Stegen. With that, the topsy-turvy encounter was back on.

Barcelona’s defence may not be half as good as it once was but, led by Champions League centurion Gerard Pique, they were able to keep out the Spurs for the remaining 25 minutes before the brilliant Messi made sure the Champions League 2018 news headlines were all about him.

Ninety minutes were on the clock when the relentless Alba beat home sub Moussa Sissoko to the ball and, after Suarez left the ball, the unmarked Messi made no mistake.

On this form, it’s hard to bet against him and Barca. On the other side, the Spurs have now got their work cut out after back-to-back defeats in Group B.

Key statistics

This was Gerard Pique’s 100th Champions League appearance (with Manchester United and Barcelona).

Lionel Messi has now scored 22 goals in 29 games against English sides.

Barcelona have won their group in each of the past 11 seasons and have reached at least the quarter-finals in all of those UEFA Champions League campaigns, both competition records.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde dropped Pochettino, then 34, when he took over at Espanyol in 2006—the Argentine defender ended up retiring as a player shortly afterwards.

Coutinho’s goal was the quickest in the competition since Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel (36 seconds) for PSV Eindhoven against Olympiacos FC in 2005.

Kane has scored 10 goals in 12 Champions League appearances.

Lamela’s deflected strike was the 8,000th goal in Champions League history.

What’s next?

The Spurs are back in action at Wembley in a few days’ time when newly promoted Cardiff City visit them.

West Ham are their first opponents after the international break before their Champions League group resumes with a trip to PSV Eindhoven.

Barcelona travel to fellow Champions League competitors Valencia in La Liga this weekend and then welcome Sevilla to the Nou Camp after the break. After that, their European combat continues with the visit of Inter Milan.

 

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Lloris set for Spurs return

Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris is set to start for the north Londoners when they host Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The talented keeper, who helped guide France to World Cup glory over the summer, has been out of action for the last six games due to a thigh injury.

However, Lloris was training on Tuesday and is set to give Mauricio Pochettino's side a much-needed boost as they look to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Inter Milan in their last Champions League outing.

Spurs will be without some key personnel for Wednesday's visit of Barca to Wembley, with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Serge Aurier and Dele Alli all expected to be unavailable.

Having not signed a single player over the summer window, Pochettino says he has been keen to find solutions rather than look for excuses when it comes to the squad's strength in depth.

He said: "The expectation always grows and one wants to improve year after year, but the reality of the club is the one that we are living now. We are the only club in Europe that have not signed a new player.

"That's the reality but the demand and desire is always to improve. Do not use it [lack of summer signings] as an excuse and you have to be stronger, be creative and look for solutions rather than trying to evade responsibility."

Spurs are 29/10 to win, 29/10 to draw and 19/20 to lose to the Blaugrana.

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A Cosmopolitan Champions League Clash in the Capital

Tottenham Hotspur vs Barcelona

It has so many hallmarks to be a Champions League classic.

Two attack-minded teams with defences which can be breached too easily at times locking horns at the home of English football.

No wonder us fans are salivating at the prospect.

Talking Points

Much of the Champions League 2018 news in the build-up to this has focused on the comments of the Catalan’s star man Lionel Messi.

After a 2-1 defeat at Leganes last week, Barcelona needed the introduction of Messi to help them earn a point on Saturday in a 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao.

He then was shown a yellow card after the full-time whistle for airing his frustrations too much for the official’s liking.

It capped a disappointing few days for the club and led to the mercurial number 10 to call for a fast improvement by his team.

There’s no chance coach Ernesto Valverde will not start Messi and Sergio Busquets this time. It is precisely this game they were rested for at the weekend.

Champions League: Barcelona captain Lionel Messi and company to face Tottenham at Wembley

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the bench during their La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao

Sergio Roberto, who started in place of Busquets, likely will miss the trip to England after coming off injured against Bilbao, as will Samuel Umtiti.

New signing Malcom has also been left out of the 20-man squad.

Despite not playing particularly well and dropping seven points from three games, Barcelona certainly should not panic.

They remain top of La Liga and very much possess an excellent squad, if not quite the dominant force they have been at times over the past decade.

Of course, Barcelona have fond memories of Wembley, the scene of their 1992 and 2011 European Cup triumphs.

This is a crucial spell for the club with fixtures against Valencia, Sevilla, Inter Milan and arch-rivals Real Madrid all to come during October.

After their defence was breached so emphatically in the past week, Harry Kane and co will fancy their chances.

Remember, Spurs beat European Champions Real 3-1 at Wembley last season and cannot afford another defeat after going down late on in their opening group match to Inter Milan a fortnight ago.

Spurs have injury problems of their own with Dele Alli still absent from the home midfield with a hamstring strain.

He missed Spurs’ Premier League match at the weekend along with Christian Eriksen (abdominal) and manager Mauricio Pochetino was forced to replace both Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele at half-time.

Both Belgium internationals are doubts as is goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who has missed the past six matches with a thigh problem.

Pochettino had more players at the latter stages of the World Cup than any other club manager and it’s no coincidence, he believes, that many of his players are picking up niggling injuries after failing to have a proper summer break and then missing the majority of pre-season training.

The impressive Pochettino spent six years at Espanyol as a player and then manager but he has admitted that has made it ‘impossible’ to ever manager the Catalonia giants in the years to come, despite many casting an envious glance at the Argentinian’s progress.

Pochettino was heavily linked with a move to Real in the summer following Zinedine Zidane’s decision to step down.

He admits interest in his work is further validation for his work in North London and appreciates the club and his reputation continue to grow.

That is just another reason why this match could be the most compelling of the week.

History

Only twice before have these two clubs met in a competitive fixture.

That was in the 1982 European Cup Winners Cup semi-final.

A late Graham Roberts goal earned Spurs a 1-1 draw in the first leg at White Hart Lane on a night in which Barcelona were strongly criticised by the English media.

Barca won the second leg at the Nou Camp courtesy of an Allan Simonsen goal to progress to the final (2-1 on aggregate) which, by chance, was also played at the Nou Camp and saw them defeat Standard Liege 2-1.

Betting Tip

??
Tottenham Hotspur vs Barcelona Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.09
October 4, 03:00 (GMT+8)

Despite a poor week by their standards, Champions League 2018 betting odds favour Barcelona.

1X2 Barcelona @ 2.06shows that with Spurs priced @ 3.40 and the draw @ 3.45.

If you fancy Spurs to lead at the break, there’s a tempting First Half 1X2 Spurs @ 4.10 and an appealing First Half 1X2 Barcelona @ 2.63. The First Half 1X2 draw is a safer option @ 2.11

Asian Handicap -0.75 Barcelona @ 2.38 contrasts with Asian Handicap Spurs + 0.25 @ 2.12.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Pochettino relishing Barca test

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is desperate to beat Barcelona at Wembley on Wednesday as he is a fan of Espanyol.

Espanyol are Barcelona's city rivals although they are a much smaller club than Spurs' Champions League opponents.

Pochettino's side are in need of three points against Barca after losing their opening group match 2-1 to Inter Milan last month.

"[Facing Barca] motivates me, being an Espanyol fan and living for so many years in Barcelona," said the former Southampton coach.

"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.

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

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

Dele Alli will miss the game because of a hamstring injury while Pochettino has also revealed that he will check on the fitness of Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele after they picked up muscular injuries on Saturday at Huddersfield Town.

Spurs, 50/1 to win the Champions League and 8/13 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, are 13/5 to beat Barcelona on Wednesday.

Alli to miss Barca visit

Tottenham will be without Dele Alli for Wednesday's Champions League clash against Barcelona because of a hamstring injury.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been struggling with his hamstring over the past month and it forced him to withdraw from the England squad in the last international break.

Alli returned in last weekend's win at Brighton and played in the Carabao Cup victory against Watford in midweek, but then missed Saturday's 2-0 win at Huddersfield.

And he will now miss Spurs' Champions League clash against Barca at Wembley on Wednesday as the Londoners bid to pick up a result having lost their opening Group B game at Inter Milan a fortnight ago.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino also revealed that he will check on the fitness of Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele after they picked up muscular injuries on Saturday.

He said: "In the Premier League it is very tough and physical. We had to make a few changes during the Huddersfield game but football is about the squad.

"We need to make sure every player feels important."

Spurs were given a boost when Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama came on at half-time against the Terriers and will be vying to feature against Barcelona.

Spurs are 5/2 to win the clash, while Barca are available at 19/20 to make it two wins in two European games and the draw is priced at 14/5.

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