Mauricio Pochettino says his Tottenham Hotspur players must not let their dream run to the Champions League final distract them as they prepare to seal a top-four spot in their last Premier League game of the season on Sunday.
Pochettino’s side produced one of the greatest nights in the club’s history on Wednesday when Lucas Moura’s second-half hat-trick saw them recover a 0-3 aggregate deficit to knock out Ajax Amsterdam on away goals.
That set up a June 1 showdown with Liverpool in Madrid in what will be Tottenham’s first ever Champions League final. But first, his depleted side must guard against any last-day calamity when they take on Everton.
Tottenham are three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal in the league standings and their goal difference is better by eight.
However, after a week of dramatic comebacks and his own side’s poor league form, Pochettino is taking nothing for granted, even if it would take something extraordinary to see them caught by Arsenal who play Burnley.
If Tottenham win and Chelsea fail to beat Leicester City they would match last year’s third-placed finish.
“In football, all can happen. It’s about belief. We must believe that we need to win on Sunday,” Pochettino told reporters. “Our objective must be to finish third. That’s the way we need to take the game and then what happens, happens.”
“Of course it’s better to finish third than fourth but the objective is to finish in the top four and it’s almost done but we have one more game. Everton have momentum. They had a clear week to prepare. We cannot be distracted, we need to be focused on our game.”
Pochettino’s squad is looking threadbare after Wednesday’s momentous night in Amsterdam.
Defender Jan Vertonghen has joined Harry Kane and Harry Winks on the injured list with an ankle knock, while Davinson Sanchez is also out. Juan Foyth and Son Heung-min are suspended after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat by Bournemouth last Saturday. They have both received three-match bans which Pochettino described as “crazy” and “unfair”.
After Everton, Tottenham will have three weeks to prepare for the biggest match in their history — a gap Pochettino says could help his side recover their full strength.
“I think it’s good for us because we have a chance to recover players like Harry Kane and Harry Winks and have all the squad fit to play the most important game in out history,” he said. “For us it’s good. Maybe for Liverpool it’s not so good. It depends on the circumstances. It’s not easy to have a long break, but I think for us it’s very good so that we can arrive to that game in good condition.”