04 Mar Son Heung-min: Tottenham ready for Juventus test
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min declared he and his team-mates ready for Juventus even though he recognises his match-winning performance against Huddersfield does not guarantee he will start.
The forward scored in each half of Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League victory in a superb performance that lasted until he was replaced in the 70th minute by Erik Lamela, suggesting his manager Mauricio Pochettino is preserving him for Juve on Wednesday.
Yet that he was a substitute for the first leg of their last-16 tie and that Fernando Llorente was left out altogether at Wembley on Saturday despite scoring a hat-trick against Rochdale four days earlier demonstrates he cannot take selection for granted.
The experienced Italians, finallists in two of the past three seasons, represent in many ways the ultimate test of the progress Pochettino’s youthful team have made since their elimination during last season’s group stages and the 25-year-old Son said: “We are hungry; we are not finished.
“It’s a Champions League game against a difficult opponent. We play at home but we are not scared. We need to play our game, be confident and play forward like we play at Wembley. That’s the most important thing.
“We are looking forward to playing against a good team, a good opponent. I hope it’s a great atmosphere and I think we have a great opportunity.
“You can see how well Tottenham play. We deserve to play in the Champions League to the quarter-final or even more. We are good enough. If we win, everyone will be proud of Tottenham.
“I have to accept it if the gaffer doesn’t choose me: I just have to be ready if I come on or if I’m on the bench.”
Pochettino, 46, also substituted Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele, considered even more important to his team than Son, when it became clear they had already secured all three points against Huddersfield.
Jan Vertonghen started, having returned from an ankle injury, and asked if he knew his team for Wednesday – the first leg in Turin finished 2-2 – Pochettino responded: “Of course. I have some idea. But we need to confirm, we need to assess the players. At the moment one game finishes, you start to think straightaway about the next.”
Defeat leaves Huddersfield only three points above the bottom three, but despite the extent to which they were outclassed, their manager David Wagner has urged them to respond, because of their coming fixtures with Swansea, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton and Watford that will define their season.
“There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” said the German, 46. “Our two home games against Swansea and Palace are exactly what we are looking forward to. At home, in front of our own supporters, we have a very good record. This is what we have to use to perform at our best level.”
His goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, 29, added: “(Losing at Tottenham) doesn’t really count as a free hit, but of course it’s the next games where it’s really important.”