After a two-year absence from the Champions League knockout stages, Tottenham Hotspur will return to the competition’s last 16 this campaign.
Spurs famously earned a runner-up finish in 2018/19 before crashing out at the round-of-16 stage with a 4-0 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig the following year. After a sixth-placed Premier League finish in 2019/20 to boot, the 2020/21 season saw them bow out at the same stage in the Europa League before a humiliating group-stage exit from the Europa Conference League last term.
But, after topping a very competitive Group D this time around, all that seems irrelevant now. So, who could Tottenham face in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League?
Tottenham’s return to Europe’s top table has yielded mixed results.
Frustration was the prevalent theme of their Matchday 1 bout with Marseille, although the French giants were eventually put to the sword by Richarlison’s first two Spurs goals to ensure Antonio Conte’s side enjoyed a winning return to the Champions League.
Things subsequently got a little murkier for Conte’s men as a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Club and a goalless draw with Eintracht Frankfurt left them second in the group just a point above the basement spot.
Amid a drop in domestic form, however, came results in Europe. Having earned a 3-2 victory over Frankfurt when welcoming the German outfit to north London on Matchday 4, Spurs’ 1-1 tie with Sporting on Matchday 5 left Group D wide open before its conclusion.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s dramatic crashing strike in the final seconds of Conte’s side’s visit to the French Riviera, however, ensured they flew back to England from the Stade Velodrome with a table-topping 2-1 comeback victory.
Tottenham have shared the goals around somewhat in this year’s Champions League campaign, with Son Heung-min and Richarlison both tied on two strikes to top their scoring charts, while Ivan Perisic boasts a squad-leading three assists.
As group winners (just about), Spurs can look forward to a clash with one of the eight runners-up from the group stage.
This leaves a few very tasty options for the neutrals to look forward to. Being from the same Association, we won’t see Tottenham face Liverpool in a rematch of the 2019 final, although we could see them battle Leipzig in a repeat of that last-16 demolition (of Spurs) back in 2020.
Other intriguing matchups include potential battles with either of the Milan teams, Borussia Dortmund or Paris Saint-Germain, while Club Brugge also represent potential opponents.