Ahead of tonight’s mammoth Champions League Group B clash with Bayern Munich at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we continue our new feature here on Remsport where we bring you some of the key opinions on each fixture ahead of kick-off, featuring a selection of voices from inside both clubs involved and the wider footballing world.
Niko Kovač Bayern Munich manager
“In my option, Tottenham is a very positive light in European football. They are now able to compete with the big teams, even though it didn’t look like that six or seven years ago. Mauricio Pochettino has done a great job and this is an example for others that patience is important. Spurs will give it their all from the first minute and put us under pressure. The football Tottenham play is very beautiful to watch and it’s innovative and creative. We have to make sure we have the mental and physical resilience to respond to their new challenges.
“Tottenham’s development has been nothing but positive. You can see what happens when you have good leadership, a good coach and a good idea. We need to be ready both physically and mentally to find answers for the questions they will give us. I think there is a bit more pressure on Tottenham.”
On Harry Kane, Kovač added: “He is sensational in the Premier League, week in and week out. There is nothing that he cannot do. He and Robert Lewandowski are two of the best strikers in the world.”
Serge Gnabry Bayern Munich winger
Continuing the comparisons between Kane and Lewandowski, Gnabry said: “Both don’t miss a lot of chances and are both very hungry. We know that Harry Kane is very dangerous and we’ll have to do our best to not let him score.”
On our threats in general and his own hopes against us, having previously played in this country for Arsenal and West Brom, he added: “We know that Tottenham are a strong team and they always perform in important games. I’ve been working hard and the coaches have given me time to play. It’s given me time to develop and that’s key for any player.”
Jan Vertonghen Spurs defender
“It’s a big, big game, our first at home in the Champions League this season and I just can’t wait! These are the games we want to play in our new stadium, in front of our fans – buzzing!
“We’ve come a long way and we shouldn’t forget that. We worked very hard to get to this stage and now we’ve got questions about reaching the Champions League Final, compared to the Europa League group – that shows how well we’ve done in the last six, seven years. That taste… we want more and we’re still very hungry. Hopefully we can do better than last season.”
On the prospect of having to defend against Bayern striker Lewandowski, Jan added: “I don’t think I’ve ever played against him. He’s one of the few strikers I’ve not played against. I’ve watched a lot of games and he’s one of the best strikers in Europe but, in every position, they’ve got one of the best players in Europe, so we’ll have to be prepared.”
Mauricio Pochettino Spurs manager
“We all expect a very tough game. Bayern Munich are a great team, a great club, amazing players, great manager. It will be an exciting game. This is a moment to enjoy the possibility of playing Champions League football against one of the best teams in Europe.
“I’m so excited because when you are in football as a player or a manager you want to be involved in this type of game and a competition like the Champions League, playing against teams like Bayern Munich. This is a club that every season prepares to try to win the Champions League, their history says that. For sure, they are one of the contenders.”
Mauricio Pochettino looks ahead to our first home game in this season’s Champions League against Bayern Munich.
“Bayern Munich are in transition. The team has been ageing and they’ve just got to the end of their last season with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery- one retired, one off to Italy – but what they have done is prepare for that. Their wingers in Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman are excellent, both hugely important in the second half of last season and they’ve both started this season very well, both were brilliant for their countries as well, Germany and France. Robert Lewandowski has scored 10 goals in the first six Bundesliga games and could have had more. It looks like they are reliant on him, but if you look at Barcelona and Messi, for instance, if you have a player that good, of course you rely on him to a certain extent. For me, the biggest concern with Bayern, if you look at putting together their best team, does it have both Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic? I’d say not. We’ll see if either or both start against Spurs.”