As Pochettino declares Spurs to be one of the big boys, can Tottenham do the unthinkable?

After seeing off the side that have won the competition twice in as many years, why can't Tottenham go all the way?

As Pochettino declares Spurs to be one of the big boys, can Tottenham do the unthinkable?
Pochettino had the edge over Zidane (photo: Getty Images / Mike Hewitt)

It was hard to disagree with much of what Mauricio Pochettino said in the aftermath of Tottenham Hotspur's stunning win over Real Madrid on Wednesday.

As he smiled down to the media after the game, Pochettino hailed the performances of his defence, of match-winner Dele Alli, of the whole team.

There was one statement that rang out loud and clear though.

"We now belong with the best in England and Europe."

Spurs cruise to last 16

Having been paired with not only Madrid but also Borussia Dortmund when the group draw was made in late August, few gave Spurs a prayer of doing what they didn't manage to do last season and qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds.

Now, having taken four points off the holders and beaten Dortmund and minnows APOEL convincingly, they've booked a place in the last 16 with ease. All they need to secure top spot is three points against APOEL at home, Pochettino's side can put their feet up in Dortmund.

Whilst Dortmund worry about dropping into the Europa League and Real Madrid deal with the crisis that consecutive losses will surely bring, Pochettino can put his feet up and smile.

Much of his work at Tottenham has been gearing, not towards a night like the draw in Madrid, but a night like Wednesday, Spurs making a statement to the whole world of their talent and intent both going forward at the back.

Title challenges have been there but not quite charged at, whilst European football last season left Spurs mocked. Not this time around.



Can Tottenham win the Champions League?

"You've seen today that Tottenham is a big team," said Pochettino. "We are starting to believe in our potential and that we can compete on a physical and mental level wit the top teams."

It is that belief that has seen a Spurs side racked with talent march triumphantly to top spot in Group E, making the world sit up and take notice.

So, how much further can their belief take them? They've got the team to do it, and with the likes of Sevilla, Basel, Porto and Shakhtar as potential last 16 opponents, Pochettino's side may find themselves in the quarter-finals quicker than they think. That would leave them four games from a Champions League final, and the chance to silence Arsenal fans eternally.

They've got the defence for it, Harry Kane is amongst the Champions League top-scorers, whilst Dele Alli announced his return to European football after suspension with a brace against Los Blancos.

"It was a fantastic display by us," told the midfielder.

"We knew if we stuck to our gameplan and were solid at back then we'd get chances. I wasn't surprised we dominated. We don't want to just compete with these teams we want to beat them."

That bullish attitude will only inspire further confidence at Wembley, where Tottenham have firmly set up home for the season.

Can it inspire them to Kiev on May 26?