A second consecutive loss in back-to-back games has not put a damper on Mauricio Pochettino’s outlook for their Europa League campaign. The Tottenham manager is confident his side will bounce back.
Losing to Gent yesterday is not the worst loss that Tottenham have suffered this entire season. There’s been plenty of other games that have been considered far worse, this just so happens to be the most recent.
And because it’s the most recent, it also has the distinction of being more scrutinized than other losses.
Especially when you consider that the opposition is a Belgian side who really shouldn’t be mentioned alongside Spurs in terms of talent.
Mauricio Pochettino, who named a strong starting lineup was intending to end this two-legged match-up yesterday in the hopes of resting his starters next week.
It also looked to be a sign that Pochettino has taken this competition more seriously than last season, when he fielded a reserve squad against Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16.
Though, despite fielding a strong XI, with only two changes made (Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks for Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen), Spurs continued their streak of uninspired performances since their 4-0 drubbing of West Brom a month and three days ago.
It was not a good game by Tottenham, though this isn’t the first time that they have lost to a Belgian team away in the Europa League. It happened two years ago to Anderlecht.
While the starting XI was a mixed bag of starters and backups, Spurs expected to breeze through based on who their opponent was: a Belgian club.
The result? A 2-1 loss in the group stage. This wasn’t a terrible outcome, but one that Spurs weren’t expecting.
Tottenham won their second meeting with Anderlecht, this time at White Hart Lane, but the loss at Belgium apparently didn’t serve as a constant reminder to take every team seriously no matter who they are.
With Spurs hosting Gent at Wembley Stadium next week, they will look to set things right and advance into the next round.
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The only issue is, can Spurs win at Wembley?
They beat CSKA Moscow in the Champions League group stage earlier in the year, but that was their third and final attempt at “home”.
Spurs were already eliminated from the Champions League courtesy of Monaco, so the club was playing for pride at that point.
Getting swept by Monaco and going winless against Bayer Leverkusen in Spurs’ four other matches didn’t help matters either. Owning up to the fact that Tottenham tend to struggle at Wembley.
Still, trailing 1-0 to Gent isn’t difficult to overcome. And Pochettino knows that.
“When you lose it’s always a bad feeling but the tie is open, it’s a minimal advantage for Gent and we need to play at Wembley next Thursday and try to win the game,” Mauricio Pochettino said.
“It’s true, in the second half we were better. The first half was an even game.”
“In the second half we changed our formation a little to try to find a solution to create more chances and the start [of the half] was good but we conceded a goal in our best moment.”
“That is football, it’s difficult to explain sometimes.”
“We are confident we can turn it around, of course. We need to recover our best feeling as soon as possible. It always happens, ups and downs, but we have to be clever and try to stop that.”
“Now it’s time to try to recover from the effort tonight and prepare for the game against Fulham.”