Pochettino shares why form of Tottenham senior star has suffered
By Guy Giles
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has given his backing to Dele Alli as he returns from his three-match European ban against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
Alli was suspended from European competition after receiving a straight red for a horror tackle on Brecht Dejaegere during Spurs’ Europa League clash with Gent last season.
The ban has seen Alli miss out on Tottenham’s first three Champions League matches this year, but Spurs have coped well without the attacking midfielder, securing wins over Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia before a 1-1 draw with Real at the Bernabeu.
Alli has still been a regular feature for Spurs domestically, but has struggled to reach the heights of last season as questions over both his form and his future have continually emerged.
Speaking to the press ahead of the clash on Wednesday evening, as quoted by football.london on their live blog, Pochettino suggested Alli may have been affected by the ban:
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“It can affect the motivation when you’re not competing in an exciting competition and you stay here alone at the training ground.
“Maybe he was affected a little bit by that,” Pochettino said.
Alli’s notorious temperament was tested during the loss to Manchester United as he got into a scuffle with Ashley Young, but the youngster kept his head, and Pochettino hopes he does not lose the edge to his game.
“He is a winner and if people want to wind him up that’s normal. I think the behaviour was good. It’s normal to argue with opponents.
“In the second half he was relaxed and only focused on the game,” said Pochettino.
Spurs go into the clash against Madrid sweating over the fitness of striker Harry Kane, who only returned to training this morning, but opponents Real have injury problems of their own.
Former Spurs star Gareth Bale has been ruled out as he steps up his recovery from a calf issue, with Raphael Varane and Keylor Navas also missing through injury.
Despite these absences, and a 2-1 loss to minnows Girona at the weekend, Pochettino recognised the dangers Real still pose:
“We only analyse the Champions League games and when we played them 15 days ago.
“Real have the capacity within matches two days apart to change completely. That is why it’s important for us to be focused on us and what we can do,” explained Pochettino.
Spurs meet Real Madrid on Wednesday evening at Wembley, kick off is at 19:45.
In other Tottenham Hotspur news, midfielder Harry Winks is in bullish mood ahead of Real’s visit to Wembley.