Saturday 3 August, 1.00pm
Spurs and Real Madrid are the big-name slow starters in the Champions League and the connections between the two don't end there, says Jamie Pacheco...
"Pochettino’s poor run of results, inability to keep clean sheets and slight feeling of helplessness to improve things, has seen him installed as the 5/2 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job. But if that were to happen, he may not be out of work for that long. That’s because he’s the joint-favourite at 7/4 to become the next manager of Real Madrid!"
Real and Spurs in a spot of bother
The general rule in the Champions League is that the Group Stages are little more than a dress rehearsal for the Last 16 stage. Because of the way the seedings work, each group tends to have two strong candidates to go through, who generally do. There's normally one Group where it's hard to pick two from three meaning a somewhat big name misses out- last season it was Napoli who finished behind PSG and Liverpool - but that's about it.
Well, Real Madrid and Tottenham may well still qualify for the Last 16 this time round, but they've already given themselves plenty to do.
How did they get in this situation?
Real Madrid were 'schooled' in Gameweek 1, losing 3-0 at Paris St. Germain. Somewhat embarrassingly for Zinedine Zidane's men, on the night PSG were without Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani or it could have been even worse.
On Tuesday night they went 2-0 down at home to Club Brugge before second-half goals from Sergio Ramos (below) and Casemiro got them back to 2-2. Even though it was a disappointing result, it's not worth pushing the panic button just yet. Real will feel that at least they've got their toughest match already out of the way, PSG could easily win all their remaining matches against the other two and that they don't have much in the way to fear from Brugge and Galatasaray themselves.
That also seems to be how the Sportsbook sees things with Real still 1/12 to go through, though they're now a huge 9/1 to actually win the Group. All well and good but pressure does funny things to people. They're out to [20.0] on the Exchange from a low of [8.0] to go all the way.
As for Spurs, they're on the same one point as Real are. That was courtesy of a 2-2 draw in Olympiakos where they led 2-0. After what had been a decent start to the season, it was that slip-up which triggered a really poor set of results including defeat in the league against Leicester and elimination from the Carabao Cup at the hands of Colchester. Worse was to come of course with a mind-boggling 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Like Real, they're still fancied to go through at 1/9. You'd think they'll struggle to get anything out of a trip to Bayern so winning their remaining two home matches and eyeing up a draw or better at Crvena Zvezda could still be enough.
Their odds of winning their first-ever Champions League have been pushed out to [38.0].
Do these two have anything in common?
To an extent, yes. In both cases the manager wasn't able to clear out a few players he thought were surplus to requirements. It seems Pochettino was happy to see the back of Danny Rose for starters, with Zidane desperate to release Gareth Bale, among others. Bale, ironically, was discussed as a potential target for...Spurs. The latter also weren't helped by the possible on/off transfer of midfield maestro Christian Eriksen, talked about as a possible new signing for...Real Madrid.
It was also a case of the two managers not securing targets they were desperate to get. In Zidane's case, that's mostly Paul Pogba we're talking about.
What next for these two?
The Tottenham and Real connections don't end there.
Pochettino's poor run of results, inability to keep clean sheets and slight feeling of helplessness to improve things, has seen him installed as the 5/2 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job. But if that were to happen, he may not be out of work for that long.
That's because he's the joint-favourite at 7/4 to become the next manager of Real Madrid! It's a strange world we live in that one man's failures at his current club increase his chances of getting a new gig at a far bigger club. But then again, Pochettino has been a target for the Real hierarchy for a long time now.
It's in stark contrast to events in recent times. Real famously won this competition three times in a row not so long ago while Spurs were of course finalists last year.
It all makes for some nervy viewing for fans of the two clubs but it also makes for some intriguing speculation and lots of 'what next?' scenarios. And without all that, football just wouldn't be the same.
Saturday 3 August, 1.00pm