Football Features

Starting XI or bench? Spurs fans on Harry Kane’s Champions League final fitness battle

By Squawka News

Published: 8:35, 31 May 2019 | Updated: 11:01, 1 June 2019

Tottenham Hotspur take on Liverpool in Saturday’s Champions League final in what is surely the biggest game in the north London club’s history.

Even though Liverpool pulled off an unbelievable comeback against Barcelona to reach this stage, this is the Reds’ second consecutive Champions League final and a ninth overall.

But for Spurs, their remarkable turnaround against Ajax in the semi-finals has fired them to a first-ever appearance in the final of Europe’s elite competition.

There is, however, a monumental dilemma facing Mauricio Pochettino: does he start Harry Kane?

Kane has had another stellar season in front of goal with 24 strikes in 39 games across all competitions but hasn’t played since limping out of Spurs’ Champions League quarter-final first leg win over Manchester City in April.

Against all odds, the England and Spurs captain has declared himself fit to play (he would do, wouldn’t he?) but there are still legitimate fears surrounding his ability to fulfill his potential in Madrid, or even avoid injuring himself further.

And so, as Kane battles to avoid being left on the bench for his club’s biggest-ever game, we have asked a group of Spurs fans to voice their opinion on the choice facing Pochettino.

Should Kane definitely start? Or should Diego Costa’s meek appearance in the 2014 final serve as a warning? It’s far from cut and dry….

@OrlandoHotspurs: “If Harry thinks he is healthy, I think it’s a worthwhile risk to take. Tottenham will need the extra attacking prowess on the field, as well as his leadership. It might be one of those things where he has to come off early but he’s still the best striker Tottenham has by far and, debatably, the best in the world.”

@AnthonyCOYS: “Kane has to start for me. He gives us an edge which our attacking play has missed at times this season. He seems to have recovered well so I wouldn’t hesitate to start him. Ultimately, having arguably the best centre forward in the world available for the biggest game in the club’s history is just too hard to ignore.”

@lazqetjohnson: “I think Kane should start on the bench. If the team is not functioning well or falls behind then he should be brought in before the 60-minute mark to give him enough time to make an impact.”

@atthepeake: “This must be one of the hardest calls Pochettino will ever have to make. I can’t see how Kane will possibly be fit enough to start in a game of this magnitude, though, so, personally, I would name him as a substitute, although I do think he will start.”

@SpursObsession: “He has to play. His presence gives confidence to his teammates and fans, he will make a difference regardless of his fitness because he offers so much and what he does offer is of such a high standard as well. It’s probably between Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura for the player that misses out but either of them would be such a massive boost from the bench and could be decisive.”

@VamosYids: “Kane has to start in my opinion, his presence would lift the players so much knowing that he is on the pitch. These are the type of games Kane was made for, he may not be fully fit but he will somehow manage to find a goal. I think Poch should start both Son and Kane up front to create an attacking force that can bounce of eachother with Kane’s great passing ability and Son’s deep runs.”

@PochandSons: “Let’s cut to the chase – Kane is not ready to start. His injury has left him out of the squad for a majority of our important games that have led us up to this final, in which the squad have bonded together. If he came back in, he risks himself becoming injured again and jeopardising the chemistry built by the squad over the past few months.”

@Delecopter: “For me, it shouldn’t even be a question if he should start or not. It seems only Spurs fans realise just how good of a player he is and how important to us he is. He starts, end of debate.”

@TranSPURS: “What a problem to have! I’d start Kane, Lucas AND Son, not just because of attacking threat, but defensively too. Liverpool’s full-backs are absolute weapons, and we need to pen them back as far as possible. We also know Liverpool’s full-backs will try and press, opening gaps behind them, so this would arm us perfectly to counter.

“The issue is, I doubt Kane can last for 90 minutes, but I would argue Son and Lucas have bags of energy, and would still be giving 100% in the dying moments, which they may have to do again.”