Trevor Steven: Real Madrid match is huge for Tottenham's season but they have genuine chance if Harry Kane is fit

 
Trevor Steven
Follow Trevor
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League
Spurs will likely need Kane (right) if they are to beat the European champions (Source: Getty)

When Real Madrid come to town it is always a big occasion but, with so much at stake in terms of Champions League progress, the momentum of their season and their status in European football, Wednesday night's match at Wembley is massive for Tottenham.

First and foremost, it’s crucial for their hopes of staying in the competition that Spurs don’t lose. Defeat would likely see them travel to Germany for their next fixture against Borussia Dortmund with a three-point lead in the balance and staring at the possibility of dropping into the Europa League again.

It’s also vital that Tottenham muster a response to their back-to-back defeats against Manchester United, on Saturday in the Premier League, and West Ham, last week in the Carabao Cup.

Read more: Pochettino: Spurs have shown their European credentials

Until then they’d enjoyed a pretty faultless start to the season. Another loss against Real, however, could see some heads drop and suddenly the next match, a London derby against a Crystal Palace side fighting for their top-flight lives, takes on a more daunting complexion.

It will also affect how Spurs are seen as a club. This is a big season for them, and while it won’t be judged on just one match, this fixture is a key moment.

If they can draw they’ll be able to say that there was nothing between them and the European champions over 180 minutes. That is great not only for Tottenham’s reputation but might also help to keep big players who will inevitably look at their futures at some point.

If Spurs can beat Real it would be a huge lift on every front. It’s too early to talk about prioritising Europe at the expense of the Premier League, even if they are eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

But they should be aiming to reach the Champions League quarter-finals at least, and after that who knows? They can be a match for anyone and I can see this squad developing as the season progresses.

I think this match also has personal significance for Mauricio Pochettino. The Tottenham boss has got such a good reputation now that if the Real job came up he’d be on the shortlist; beating them would be a great scalp and would make an impression on the Spanish club’s hierarchy.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session
Pochettino will be smarting from Saturday's defeat against Manchester United (Source: Getty)

He will also still be smarting from losing to Jose Mourinho and United, and won’t want to lose a head-to-head with another top manager in Zinedine Zidane.

You can’t avoid the fact that Harry Kane’s availability is paramount. Heung-Min Son’s efforts in his absence have been great but Kane, with 13 goals this term, is something else.

If Kane fails a fitness test then I’d make Real favourites in this match. The large Wembley pitch should suit their quality and they have the experience not to be unduly affected by some patchy form.

On the other hand, this is a good time to be playing Zidane’s team. They too are eight points off the top of La Liga and lost to promoted Girona at the weekend. Cristiano Ronaldo has not hit top speed yet, Gareth Bale and Dani Carvajal are costly injury absentees and their bench has been shorn of depth by the departure of Alvaro Morata, Pepe and James Rodriguez.

It’s still a big challenge, but if Kane is fit and they take the bull by the horns, Spurs have a genuine chance.

Read more: Tottenham "very confident" Harry Kane will return for Real Madrid tie

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles