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Tottenham v Monaco: Pochettino is sure Spurs will feel right at home at Wembley

By Declan Warrington

Published 14/09/2016

Gearing up: Harry Kane, Ben Davies and Son Heung-Min have been training on a pitch with the same dimensions as at Wembley
Gearing up: Harry Kane, Ben Davies and Son Heung-Min have been training on a pitch with the same dimensions as at Wembley

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 ourselves," 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. We designed two pitches (at the training ground), one with 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 it's 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 (right), 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 yesterday it was announced that 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.

The England international impressed during the 2015 defeat by Chelsea but he said of the occasion: "It wasn't a good day because we'd have liked to have won it, so I'm not sure (it was good for me).

"But I felt like that was a good time for me at Tottenham, that period of the season, and I feel like from there I've managed to kick on and keep improving and I hope to keep improving from now on too.

"I can't remember specifics. I think I must have handled Diego Costa okay. He's a top player to play against so I hope I did handle him okay, yeah.

"Jardim was my manager for one season at Sporting. I was in the first-team squad with him. He's a very good manager, very good man and he had a very successful year.

"He put Sporting in the Champions League and from there managed to go on to Monaco and do well again. I look forward to seeing him again."

Belfast Telegraph

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