With Tottenham heading to Borussia Dortmund midweek to visit Westaflenstadion with a 3-0 lead in tow, Harry Kane has issued a stern challenge to his teammates: seize the moment.
Kane admitted that Tottenham has wilted in big moments of late, and pressed his teammates to change their mentality and bring nerves of steel. He wants them to become big game players.
“The thing for us now, kind of like this week, when the pressure is on and we need to step up, we need to find a way to get it done,” Kane said. “We haven’t done that in recent years, we haven’t done that this week and that will be the difference. That is the turning point that we need to try to achieve.”
Kane’s reference to “this week” points to the club’s failure to stay with the title race as Liverpool and Manchester City pulled away from Spurs after Tottenham dropped points in three consecutive league matches. They fell to both Burnley and Chelsea in late February before a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the North London derby left Spurs 10 points off the lead, a likely insurmountable deficit. In fact, thanks to the slips, Spurs now must contend with those behind them, as Manchester United sits just three points back in fourth, with Arsenal and Chelsea right there as well.
“We will never have a better chance to get to a quarter-final,” Kane said. “We went out at this stage last year so I think it is important we get to the quarter-final to show we are improving. The league is difficult year-by-year, teams are getting better so it is important that we try and maintain that and get better ourselves but it is not always possible. We’re in a good spot, we need to get through and it will be a success in the Champions League so far.”
Last season, Tottenham was sitting pretty after a 2-2 first leg draw on the road at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals, returning home with two away goals after a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down. They slumped in the second leg, however, falling 2-1 despite opening the scoring at home. Since Spurs has become a significant top-four contender under Mauricio Pochettino, they have been unable to take the next step, unable to climb into a true title challenger for the full length of a season, and failing to get past the Round of 16 in either European tournament since a run to the Europa League quarterfinals in 2012/13.