Revealed! The Shocking Thing Pochetino wants his players to do to Messi

Mauricio Pochettino wants his Tottenham players to enjoy playing Barcelona. SpursOfficial

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has urged his players to walk out with a smile on their faces against Barcelona.

Spurs will be looking for their first Champions League points of the season when they take on Barcelona at a sold-out Wembley on Wednesday.

They were cruelly beaten 2-1 by Inter Milan in their last game when the Italian side scored twice late on to take the win.

Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Serge Aurier will all miss out against the Spanish champions, although Hugo Lloris will return in goal and Pochettino wants his team to relish facing Lionel Messi.

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“It’s about enjoying the game tomorrow and the best player in the world in Messi,” he said. “Football is not a drama but always it’s about being focused, competitive and enjoying playing against the best player in the world.

“Be optimistic and be happy and smile when you go on the pitch. Don’t be too serious.”

Pochettino accepts Messi will be Barcelona’s biggest threat. “It’s very clear, very simple, we need to be near him when he gets the ball,” he added. “If we leave him space he will get away from his marker. What we need is to have players helping each other. We need to demand sacrifice and they will expend a lot of energy.”

How Pochettino and Messi Almost Became Teammates 

Barcelona star Lionel Messi was “very close” to joining Espanyol in 2005, according to Pochettino.

Messi, 31, was still in the early stages of his senior career at the time, but ended up staying at Camp Nou and developing into one of the best players of all-time.

Pochettino – then in the latter stages of his playing career at Espanyol – said Messi almost joined the club after impressing against Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

Messi almost joined Espanyol in 2005 – Pochettino

“I started to hear about him when I was at Espanyol – a small guy playing in the academy in Barcelona,” Pochettino said ahead of his team’s clash with Barca in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“He arrived when he was 13 years old, going from Argentina to Barcelona. Then I heard he was so close to signing for Espanyol – very close – in the season Barcelona played against Juventus under [Fabio] Capello in the Joan Gamper Cup.

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“Because he was so fantastic in the Joan Gamper, Capello praised him afterwards and they changed the decision and kept Messi at Barcelona.

“So if you look back in history, maybe if he didn’t play in the Joan Gamper that summer, maybe today he could have been the biggest star in Espanyol and Espanyol could be Barcelona.

“We would have been team-mates, and maybe I would have still been in Espanyol managing him.”

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