The season for us might be over, but it isn’t over for some of our players.
Our host of England internationals will be on duty in the Nations League this week, as they take on the Netherlands before potentially being involved in the final against either Portugal or Switzerland. With injury concerns, lack of match fitness, but also that tantalising prospect of lifting a trophy all in play, this promises to be a must-see couple of weeks for Spurs fans when they watch the Three Lions.
Mauricio Pochettino saw four of his men named in the final 23-man squad announced by England boss Gareth Southgate, with Harry Winks and Kieran Trippier both narrowly missing the cut. With our run to the Champions League final, it may be unlikely that we’ll see all of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Eric Dier feature in the clash against Holland.
But let’s just fantasise for a moment and imagine that they are. The clash throws up a few story-lines that really would get the pulses racing.
Having been marshalled out of the game by him in Madrid, Kane would have the opportunity to make amends by finally getting the better of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch centre-half was voted Player of the Year in the Premier League, and has been a defensive rock for the Reds. And on Thursday, rather than being partnered by Joel Matip, he’s likely to be joined by Matthijs de Ligt. Is there a more formidable-looking centre-back partnership in the world?
Well, in the perfect situation, Kane would regain his form and fitness and run rings around the two so-called best defenders in the world, and strike the goals that sends Southgate’s side through. The Spurs man has always stepped up after a relatively poor performance, and he would back himself to set the record straight against Van Dijk.
Having blown past the Dutch, the likelihood is we’ll see Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the final, and that sets it up for Rose and Dier to get their defensive boots on. Aside from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, the duo are likely to be up against Benfica prodigy Joao Felix, who has seen his name linked with some of the biggest sides in Europe.
Both Rose and Dier have had indifferent campaigns this season, with the latter in particular finding himself on the peripheries of our first-team. But the games and occasions where he’s up against it is where he comes into his own. Getting stuck into challenges and getting into people’s faces. If Ronaldo thinks he’s in for an easy ride, then Dier will be there with an early marker.
But perhaps most importantly for us as a side, will be that none of our players pick up any serious knocks. We’ve seen plenty of players over the years suffer injury blows whilst on international duty, and with Kane only just back from a lay-off himself, the whole of Spurs will be hoping and praying that they all come back safe. And with that Nations League title in tow too.