Mauricio Pochettino insists Manchester City remain favourites to win the Champions League despite their quarter-final first leg defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as reported by the London Evening Standard.
Spurs ran out 1-0 winners in north London, with Son Heung-Min scoring the only goal of the game.
What’s the word?
Pochettino saw his side outplay City in the first leg of their last-eight clash.
Spurs have not been in a Champions League semi-final since 1962 but now stand on the precipice of qualification to the last four.
If they manage to keep a clean sheet at the Etihad Stadium, Spurs will face either Juventus or Ajax in the semi-finals.
But Pochettino insists that City remain favourites not just in their tie but also for the whole competition overall.
Indeed, City won their last home European tie 7-0, sealing a 10-2 aggregate win over Schalke 04.
Speaking to reporters, quoted by the Standard, Pochettino said: “Still a lot of work to do, Manchester City are the favourites to win the Champions League and it’s going to be tough.
“Completely different in one week, completely different game.
“But to win the first leg, gives us belief and we are going to go there and fight a lot, but it’s a good result for us. For me, Manchester City are still the favourites [in the tie].”
Right to be cautious
Spurs have been in excellent form in Europe this season but they are right to be cautious.
A draw with Barcelona in the group stages was a terrific result but came about after Lionel Messi started the game on the bench, while the 4-0 thumping of Borussia Dortmund in the last round came with the German side on a major downswing in form.
This time around, there is every chance that Spurs can beat City. Guardiola’s men have not quite been in their usual irresistible form either, and they are perhaps as vulnerable as they have ever been to counter-attacks.
Spurs last won at the Etihad in 2016, when Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane scored in a 2-1 victory. Their last visit though, in 2017, ended in a 4-1 defeat.
Pochettino knows both sides of the coin. He is clever to remind the players that they are the underdogs. But stranger things have happened…