Moscow (AFP) – Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said he hoped his side could overcome an avalanche of injuries to claim a first Champions League win this season against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.
The Argentinian coach is already without England striker Harry Kane and will now also see Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko sit out the clash in Russia.
“The Champions league is a new competition for us and it’s important to have a strong squad for it,” Pochettino told a press conference Monday.
“We’ve signed several strong players to increase the competition in the team and now despite the injuries we’re still a competitive side.”
A win in Moscow is vital for Tottenham — currently second in the English Premier League — after their defeat by Monaco in the opening Champions League fixture.
“Now we need to improve our performance, we need to win tomorrow. It’s very important to get all three points. We know it will be a very tough game but in our minds we want to get three points.”
– Crowd fears played down –
CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky meanwhile insisted there would be no repeat of the Euro 2016 fan violence.
The Russian champions take on the Londoners in the first visit by an English side to the country since their respective fans clashed at the summer tournament in France.
“I believe that those English fans who come to Moscow to support their favourites will enjoy a high level of hospitality, not only at the stadium but everywhere,” Slutsky, who managed Russia at Euro 2016, said at a press conference.
“I’m confident that they’re in no danger. They have no reasons for fears.”
But Slutsky hopes his players won’t be quite so hospitable as they look to heap more misery on Tottenham.
“Of course we should be very careful in dead ball situations,” Slutsky said.
“The appearance of (Toby) Alderweireld, (Jan) Vertongen or (Vincent) Janssen in our penalty box will definitely be dangerous.
“But I don’t think that the dead ball situations will be the only or main threat in tomorrow’s match as Tottenham have a big group of skilled players in their attack and we need to shut them down.”
Last week, CSKA crashed out of the Russian Cup 2-1 away to Yenisei Krasnoyarsk, which put an end to their eight-match unbeaten run in all tournaments.
The Russian champions also dropped points at the weekend after being held 1-1 by Krasnodar.
Slutsky said playmaker Alan Dzagoev, who missed Saturday’s match with a persistent muscle problem, remains uncertain for the clash with Tottenham.
“We will finalise the decision on him in the morning (Tuesday),” Slutsky added.