Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists the continent is increasingly wary of the threat his side poses as they bid to overcome European heavyweights Juventus and reach the Champions League quarter-finals tonight.
Spurs recovered from two early blows to earn an impressive 2-2 draw in the first leg in Turin, with their two away goals tipping the balance in their favour ahead of the second leg of the last-16 showdown at Wembley.
The north Londoners are one of three teams alongside Liverpool and Barcelona still unbeaten in Europe this season. Their comeback at the home of the defending Italian champions followed victories over Borussia Dortmund and reigning champions Real Madrid in the group stage, performances Pochettino believes have earned Tottenham the respect of the elite.
“In Europe, people start to respect Tottenham more,” said Pochettino. “They respect our football, our philosophy. We try to develop good football, the football that we love and we feel we have the respect. The brand of football we show, in Europe they respect us.”
Juventus, Champions League finalists in two of the last three campaigns, will be able to call upon forward Paulo Dybala, who has netted 18 goals this term, after he missed the first leg due to a hamstring injury.
Pochettino, meanwhile, despite acknowledging the pedigree of the Old Lady, is convinced his side have little to fear from Juve providing they replicate their recent domestic form.
The Argentinian has called upon his charges to forgo fear and embrace the occasion in Spurs’s biggest European night since they faced Real Madrid in the 2011 quarter-finals.
“We know very well that we are going to play one of the best teams in Europe,” added Pochettino.
“[Gonzalo] Higuain is one of the greatest strikers in the world, for me one of the best with Harry Kane. We know very well his talent but sometimes it is not easy to stop a player like this, like [Paulo] Dybala or [Lionel] Messi. Juventus are a great team so we need to be careful with him, but also with all the players.
“But we are a brave team, very positive people that love the challenge and tomorrow is a massive challenge. We are going to compete and at the same time to enjoy, because it’s a game to enjoy.
“We need to think we can win and then what happens will be a consequence of our performance. If we are capable of performing in the way that we are normally used to, I’m sure tomorrow we will be close to a win and advancing to the next stage.”
Tottenham will have a near full-strength squad from which to choose, although centre-back Toby Alderweireld will continue his recovery from a hamstring injury and is not expected to feature, while full-back Serge Aurier is suspended.