LONDON: Tottenham welcome Manchester City to their new 62,000 home for its first European tie tomorrow hoping that may prove the one competition this season in which they can best the English champions.
The tie is the sixth quarter-final between two Premier League clubs and the second in succession for City who fell at this stage last season to Liverpool. City have thus lost all four meetings with fellow English opposition in Europe, going right back to defeats by Chelsea in the long-since-defunct Cup-winners Cup.
Spurs may be distracted by the danger of missing out on the all-important place in the top four which should guarantee a return to the Champions League next season. They have won only two of their last seven games but the second win was by 2-0 against Crystal Palace on Wednesday in the new stadium’s first competitive match. That may have helped Harry Kane & Co turn their corner.
Past all-English ties have seen the obvious favourites often struggle against opposition they know too well. These two clubs are well acquainted. They will even meet in a Premier League match straight after the second leg. City won 1:0 in London last October but that was at Wembley.
City remain in pursuit of a quadruple which would be unique for an English club. However manager Pep Guardiola continued to play down the prospect after the FA Cup semi-final victory over Brighton on Saturday.
He said: “It’s almost impossible to win the quadruple so put that in the headlines, guys. Even surviving to this stage in all the competitions is a miracle. It’s incredible what these players of ours have done so far and we are willing to try every game until the end.”
Guardiola even tried to pretend that City would be underdogs because of the difference in resting time between the teams’ last matches.
He said: “We are playing one of the best teams in Europe who have had six days’ rest while we have had two and a half days’ rest. But to go for everything you have to overcome this. Big clubs deal with these situations. They do not complain. So we will prepare as well as we can for the next game in this fabulous stadium that [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy has built and then we will see.
“If we lose I will tell my players that they are my heroes anyway for what they have achieved already.”