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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Tottenham and Juventus set to put on a show of attacking force

Champions League clash could be a classic

Tottenham's Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli
1 of 1

Champions League last-16 second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday

It was snowing when Spurs played at Wembley last week but it could be raining goals under the famous arch when they play Juventus.

Tottenham supporters have witnessed 11 goals in three Champions League home games this season, nine of them by Spurs, and the last-16 second leg is set up perfectly after the 2-2 draw in Turin.

Spurs have the advantage as they can advance with a 0-0 or 1-1 draw and they are 2-5 to qualify. But a low-scoring outcome is unlikely given the quality of the attacking players on show.

Tottenham are not the sort of team to sit on an advantage and Harry Kane has promised they will try to play their usual high-pressing game.

It could be a risky strategy because Juventus will be more dangerous with pacy attacker Paulo Dybala restored to full fitness.

Dybala was back in training before the first leg but deemed short of match fitness and made his return as a substitute in the 1-0 league win at Torino.

However, he was unable to renew his partnership with Gonzalo Higuain, who had limped off with an ankle injury in the 15th minute.

Higuain, scorer of both of Juve's first-leg goals, has not played since but he returned to training on Sunday and has travelled to London.

The big question is whether Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri thinks he is ready to play from the start.

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Juve are a more potent force when Dybala and Higuain lead their attack but Allegri hasn't been able to use them in the same starting line-up in any of the club's 11 matches this year.

If they are both available it will be a huge boost to Allegri although he might not be able to call on Mario Mandzukic, who has been struggling with a hip complaint.

Juventus should also be stronger in midfield with Blaise Matuidi recovered from the thigh injury which ruled him out of the first match.

Allegri has regularly deployed two in midfield, including in the first match against Spurs, but he played Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira together when Juve registered a landmark 1-0 victory away to Napoli in December and may feel he needs an extra man in the engine room at Wembley.

Spurs made the worst possible start to the first leg, falling 2-0 behind inside nine minutes, but they responded superbly to claim a well-deserved 2-2 draw.

They rode their luck at times, especially when Higuain missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but bossed the game for long periods and won the completed passes count 559 to 220.

Tottenham might not dominate as much against a three-man Juve midfield but it might suit them to play more on the counter-attack, as they did in 3-1 victories at home to Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund when their opponents had the lion's share of possession.

Mauricio Pochettino has a tough job in selecting his four attacking players.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen always play in the big games, leaving a straight choice between Heung-Min Son, scorer of both goals in Saturday's 2-0 success at home to Huddersfield, and Erik Lamela, who was one their best players in Turin.

Whoever gets the nod it will be a Spurs side capable of causing problems for Juventus, who are used to dominating games in Serie A.

Juve need to score and will have to play on the front foot.

They have the quality to expose Spurs but their defence could once again be severely stretched by Tottenham's passing and movement.

Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon are in for a busy night and there is value in backing over 2.5 goals at odds-against.

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Team news
Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) is out and Serge Aurier serves a one-game ban.

Gonzalo Higuain (ankle) is back in full training and could start. Juan Cuadrado (groin) and Federico Bernardeschi (knee) are out. Mattia De Sciglio (hamstring) and Mario Mandzukic (hip) are doubts.

Key stat
Eight of Tottenham's last nine Champions League matches have featured at least three goals.

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Eight of Tottenham's last nine Champions League matches have featured at least three goals
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