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Harry Kane central to Tottenham’s chances in Juventus clash

Harry Kane celebrating his goal in Turin in the first-leg against Juventus. (AFP)
LONDON: A little over a year ago, Tottenham drew 2-2 at Wembley against the Belgian side Gent. It might have been their lowest moment under Mauricio Pochettino. Dele Alli was sent off for a spiteful lunge and they never looked like getting the better of limited opponents who had won the first leg 1-0. Tottenham had gone out of the Europa League in the last 32 and two mighty narratives were in full flow: Tottenham couldn’t play in Europe and they couldn’t play at Wembley.
Since then they have won 17 and lost just two of 23 matches they have played at the national stadium, having moved in full-time while White Hart Lane is rebuilt. They have beaten Borussia Dortmund home and away, taken four points off Real Madrid and come from 2-0 down to draw away to Juventus. Their progress has been spectacular.
This, perhaps, is Tottenham’s greatest strength. They may not have the budget of other top-six clubs, and they may live in constant fear of their squad being scattered by richer rivals, but they learn faster than anybody else.
At the heart of both the team and that ethos is Harry Kane. He is the Premier League’s joint top-scorer with 24 goals this season and averages 5.8 shots per game, 1.8 more than anybody else in the league.
Any suggestion he is selfish, though, could not be more wrong, as his remarkable hanging cross for Son Heung-min on Saturday demonstrated.
He himself has said that he regards his performances against Madrid, when he did not score but worked tirelessly to hold the ball up, as his best of the season.
“I think, he is very good not only at scoring goals but linking, assisting, working for the team,” Pochettino said at the weekend. “I think he is a great player. Of course, you need a good mentality and willingness to work. What the offensive players like is to have the ball and shoot and score goals, and then when they need to work and run in behind to the ball and try to chase the opponent, put pressure on, that is the more difficult part to teach, to make them available to run for the team.”
Nobody in the Premier League needs any convincing of Kane’s excellence but the next stage for him is a truly dominant performance either in a big game for England or in a Champions League knockout match.
His display in Turin came close as he harried Juventus constantly in possession, posed a persistent threat and, having been thwarted by one remarkable save from Gianluigi Buffon, took his goal with great style, banging his finish authoritatively into an empty net, even though the act of taking the ball round the goalkeeper forced him wide.
Kane is well aware of the strides Spurs have made this season, particularly in Europe where they have shown they can play a patient game if needed. “We made a big step in that respect by what we did in the group stage,” he said, “and now we have got to try and do it against the big teams consistently.”
Given how Juventus wobbled in the face of Tottenham’s pressing, though, it would be a surprise if they sat off at Wembley. This is a chance for one of the great nights in the club’s history, a great step in the development both of Tottenham and Kane.