“Hi Luke,” begins David Wall on email.
“When Conte took over at Spurs last year there was a thought that they had got one over on Manchester United. It was obvious at that point that Solskjaer was going to lose his job and a lot of people thought United should have gone earlier to try to get Conte when he was available. I wonder what Spurs and United fans think about that a year on?
“Of course in certain respects there’s a lot for Spurs supporters to be happy about, they’re almost into the knock out stages of the Champions League, they’re third in the league, etc. But on the other hand there seems to be growing dissatisfaction with the style of play and general performance level. Plus Conte has started complaining about the strength of his squad and the level they can compete at.
“In contrast, despite a shocking start, I get the impression that United supporters are pleased that they took their time to think about it (even though last season was dire) and went for Ten Hag. There is already an improvement in style and there seems to be a sense that the club will be improved for the long term if he’s shown a bit of patience.
“Perhaps that is short-term bias as United have had a decent week whereas Spurs haven’t at all. But I wonder if supporters of the respective clubs would swap managers right now if given the chance.”
Frankfurt 2-1 Marseille
Spurs 0-1 Sporting
Barca 0-2 Bayern Munich
Atletico 1-2 Leverkusen
Ajax 0-1 Liverpool
Napoli 2-0 Rangers
Barcelona have a penalty. Foul on Lewandowski by De Ligt. But the referee, Anthony Taylor, is having a check on the screen … and it’s no penalty! De Ligt got a little touch on the ball. Lewandowski looks appalled with the decision!
Liverpool have scored against Ajax. Salah scored it. Scott Murray has the story:
Coates with a cheeky handball, from a corner, trying to disguise it as a header. The ref is having none of it and the Uruguayan is booked. But Spurs are on the back foot and no mistake.
Goal No 1 for Napoli’s Simeone. Rangers goalie McGregor looking suitably ashen-faced.
McGregor rooted to the spot.
Goal: Barcelona 0-2 Bayern Munich (Choupo-Moting)
Barça break quickly, Gnabry slides a ball to the on-rushing Choupo-Moting, who slides a shot through Ter Stegen’s legs. That is five goals in four appearances for Choupo-Moting.
Goal: Atletico 1-2 Leverkusen (Hudson-Odoi 29)
It’s all happening. Callum Hudson-Odoi puts the Germans back in front.
Goal: Frankfurt 2-1 Marseille (Muani 22)
Poor defending from Marseille allows Kolo Muani to exchange passes with a teammate and sidefoot in after a quick counterattack. “With the Frankfurters he’s on a roll,” observes pun specialist James Richardson, of Muani.
Goal: Frankfurt 1-1 Marseille (Guendouzi 22)
It’s a doozy from Matteo Guendouzi – the former Gunners man meets a cross first-time and belts it into the roof of the net on the volley from point-blank range.
The Tottenham alumnus, Marcus Edwards, embarks on a storming run through the centre of midfield. The Spurs defenders back off, Edwards hits a low shot which is not the sweetest you’ll ever see, but flashes across Lloris and into the corner of the net.
Goal: Atletico 1-1 Levekusen (Carrasco)
All square in Madrid, Carrasco hits a daisy-cutter from the edge of the area which sneaks in to the bottom corner.
Goal: Napoli 2-0 Rangers (Simeone 11)
Crikey. That is another high, high, high quality goal by Napoli. This time it comes from the left wing. Mario Rui whips in a cross, which is perfect for Simeone, making a run to the near post, to meet with a diving header that arrows unerringly into the bottom corner.
The glum faces of the Rangers defenders tell the story.
Goal: Napoli 1-0 Rangers (Simeone 11)
Wonderful goal. Di Lorenzo bends in a curling pass, in behind the defence, the Argentinian Simeone times his run to perfection and bangs a low shot inside the far post from a tight angle. McGregor, in the Rangers goal, shakes his head as if to say: what are we supposed to do about that?
Napoli are almost in again immediately. They are playing with so much confidence at the moment.
Goal: Barcelona 0-1 Bayern Munich (Mane 10)
Sadio Mane gets Bayern on the board.
Goal: Atletico 0-1 Leverkusen (Diaby 9)
A lovely curling finish by Diaby, to match a high-quality pass stabbed through behind the defence by Hlozek for the German side.
On BT Sport, James Horncastle tells a story from last season: Apparently Luciano Spalletti’s Fiat Panda was stolen and the Napoli Ultras said they would get the car back for him, but only if he left the club. Horncastle tells the story as a means of illustrating the extent to which Spalletti has won the fans over on this amazing winning run.
Goal: Frankfurt 1-0 Marseille (Kamada 3)
Daichi Kamada strokes in a handsome right-footed finish, capitalising on a lovely stepover by Jesper Lindstrøm, and that makes things even tighter in Group D, with Frankfurt drawing level with Sporting on seven points. Spurs have eight.
Wednesday night’s 8pm Big Cup kick-offs are go.
The teams are out on the pitch (pitches). Hugo Lloris is doing the honours as captain of Tottenham tonight.
Spurs fans – what are your thoughts before tonight’s match? You can email me.
Brugge were already qualified, and now goals from Taremi (2), Evanilson and Eustáquio leave Porto sitting nicely in second place in Group B. If Atletico do not beat Leverkusen at home, Porto are through.
That’s the lot at San Siro. Inter are in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Here’s a photo of Steve Coppell and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. Why? Well, why not?
Goal: Inter 4-0 Plzen (Lukaku)
The former Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton and forward is back! Soon after coming off the bench he plays a lovely one-two with Correa and belts a smart finish into the bottom corner. He’s been out for a couple of months with a thigh injury – Edin Dzeko, who is on the subs’ bench, is among the teammates who are visibly delighted for their pal.
The commentators ask why Chelsea were incapable of working out how to use Lukaku’s obvious strengths.
Hector Bellerin, Marcos Alonso and Franck Kessie are the three players to come into the Barça team this evening. For the German giants, Sadio Mane and Noussair Mazraoui start, with Benjamin Pavard and Kingsley Coman dropping to the bench.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Bellerin, Kounde, Alonso, Balde, Kessie, Busquets, de Jong, Dembele, Lewandowski, Gonzalez. Substitutes: Pique, Fati, Torres, Jordi Alba, Raphinha, Garcia, Pena, Gavi, Torre, Tenas.
Bayern Munich: Ulreich, Mazraoui, Upamecano, de Ligt, Davies, Kimmich, Goretzka, Gnabry, Musiala, Mane, Choupo-Moting. Substitutes: Pavard, Coman, Sabitzer, Muller, Schenk, Gravenberch, Tel, Stanisic.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (England)
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp, Jakic, Smolcic, N’Dicka, Ebimbe, Kamada, Sow, Lenz, Lindstrom, Gotze, Muani. Substitutes: Onguene, Alidou, Rode, Borre, Alario, Chandler, Grahl, Pellegrini, Ramaj.
Marseille: Pau Lopez, Mbemba, Balerdi, Gigot, Clauss, Rongier, Veretout, Tavares, Guendouzi, Harit, Sanchez. Substitutes: Ngapandouetnbu, Gerson, Payet, Suarez, Under, Kolasinac, Kabore, Blanco.
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano (Spain)
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Molina, Gimenez, Hermoso, Mandava, Correa, Kondogbia, Witsel, Carrasco, Morata, Griezmann. Substitutes: Grbic, De Paul, Joao Felix, Matheus Cunha, Savic, Saul, Felipe, Diez, Barrios, Mestre.
Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky, Kossounou, Tapsoba, Hincapie, Frimpong, Andrich, Amiri, Bakker, Diaby, Hlozek, Hudson-Odoi. Substitutes: Tah, Paulinho, Schick, Adli, Fosu-Mensah, Azhil, Lomb, Lunev.
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)
Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia, Zielinski all on the bench for Napoli. Spalletti is taking the chance to rest some key players and has made six changes.
Four changes for Rangers with Ridvan Yilmaz, James Sands, Scott Wright and Alfredo Morelos coming in.
Napoli: Meret, Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Kim, Mario Rui, Ndombele, Lobotka, Elmas, Politano, Simeone, Raspadori. Substitutes: Juan Jesus, Osimhen, Lozano, Idasiak, Olivera, Zielinski, Zerbin, Zanoli, Gaetano, Kvaratskhelia, Zambo, Boffelli.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, King, Davies, Yilmaz, Lundstram, Sands, Scott Wright, Tillman, Kent, Morelos. Substitutes: Colak, Davis, Matondo, McCrorie, Sakala, Barisic, McLaughlin, Arfield, Devine, Lowry, Allan.
Referee: Halil Meler (Turkey)
Antonio Conte has made six changes to his Tottenham team following the defeat by Newcastle on Sunday.
Ben Davies, Matt Doherty, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Cristian Romero, Ivan Perisic, and Lucas Moura all come into the starting side.
Tottenham: Lloris, Romero, Dier, Davies, Doherty, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Perisic, Lucas Moura, Son, Kane. Substitutes: Gil Salvatierra, Sessegnon, Forster, Spence, Tanganga, Sarr, White, Emerson, Lenglet, Sanchez, Bissouma, Skipp.
Sporting: Adan, Inacio, Coates, Matheus Reis, Porro, Ugarte, Morita, Nuno Santos, Trincao, Edwards, Paulinho. Substitutes: St Juste, Alexandropoulos, Israel, Rochinha, Issahaku, Andre Paulo, Arthur Gomes, Marsa, Nazinho, Cabral, Fernandes, Essugo.
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Holland)
Goal: Inter 3-0 Viktoria Plzen (Dzeko 66)
Into the last half an hour at San Siro and Inter now lead 3-0 against Viktoria Plzen, or Pilsen if you prefer.
I did the tour at the Pilsner Urquell brewery a few years ago, which is a stone’s throw from the stadium that has seen some illustrious visitors in this year’s competition: Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter.
The tour is great, too, and ends up in the cellars where you get to try some unfiltered beer straight from the barrel. Plzen need to get back there and drown their sorrows. It’s Barcelona that will finish third in Group C and head for the Europa League.
Who needs what? That is the question on everyone’s lips. It’s certainly the question in my mind as I frantically fire up Google and head straight for uefa.com’s handy Champions League qualification permutations article.
Tottenham will qualify from Group D should they beat Sporting in north London this evening, and they will win the group should Marseille be beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the group’s other match.
In Group A, Napoli are already through and Liverpool will join them if they avoid defeat at Ajax. Scott Murray will have the latest from Liverpool’s match right here. Rangers could still earn themselves a place in the Europa League although a result against Luciano Spalletti’s high-flying Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona looks a big ask.
In Group C, Internazionale are 2-0 up on Viktoria Plzen with about half an hour to go and heading for the last 16. The other match in that group, that kicks off at 8pm, is the small matter of Barcelona v already-qualified Bayern Munich. But if Inter close out this win against Czech opposition it’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’ for Barça regardless.
In Group B, Club Brugge are already through and Porto look most likely to join them, especially as they currently lead their Belgian opponents 1-0.