Last season, Tottenham Hotspur achieved an unlikely place in the Champions League final and, although they were beaten by Premier League rivals Liverpool, Spurs were hoping to build on that success.
Those hopes have come to naught so far. A midweek penalty shoot-out defeat in the League Cup against fourth-tier Colchester took their season to a new low, with captain Harry Kane saying that the players had run out of excuses.
“We’re not inexperienced any more, we’re not young any more, the excuses aren’t there for us any more. It’s down to us players to take responsibility.”
Spurs won just two of their opening six league matches and gave away 2-0 leads against Arsenal in the Premier League and in the Champions League against Olympiacos.
Kane, who did not play Colchester, said that it was disappointing to give away such leads.
“We’ve put ourselves in good positions this season, we just haven’t managed to see the game out or find a way to win like we have in previous years. It’s a disappointing start, but there are plenty of games to turn that around. You can never rule yourselves out until it’s done,” he said.
Tuesday’s Group B match against German champions Bayern Munich is an ideal time to start Spurs’ turnaround, but their opponents are coming to London on a high, sitting second in the Bundesliga with three victories and two draws. They beat Red Star Belgrade 3-0 in their Champions League opener.
Striker Robert Lewandowski scored one of the goals in the Allianz Arena against Belgrade and the Polish international has been in devastating form this season. His brace against Cologne last weekend took his tally to nine goals from five matches.
Despite everything pointing towards Bayern being the favourites, former German international Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is the club’s chief executive, believes Spurs have the advantage.
“There are two reasons for that. First, they were in the final last year, and second, it has to be said clearly that the Premier League is stronger than the Bundesliga at the moment.”
Rummenigge, who won the Champions League predecessor European Cup twice with Bayern, said the fact that the match was in London also made it more difficult.
“We’ll need a good day. I’m looking forward to the game, the atmosphere is going to be great and the stadium is the most expensive in the world. I do not know it yet – I’ll be there for the first time.”
Even if this game is the standout fixture on the second Champions League match day, there are several other mouth-watering clashes in Europe’s premier football club competition.
In Group A, Real Madrid are under pressure in the Santiago Bernabéu against Percy Tau’s Club Brugge. The record winners of the competition (13) were humbled by Paris Saint-Germain in their opening game, losing 3-0 and sitting at the bottom of the group. And Real were not the only unexpected losers on match day.
The defending champions Liverpool were beaten by two late goals in Napoli in Group E and now face Red Bull Leipzig at Anfield. The Austrian club were involved in an eight-goal thriller against Racing Genk, winning 6-2.
In Group H, Chelsea lost 1-0 at home to Valencia and are away to Lille in France in a match the Blues cannot afford to lose.
Chelsea coach Frank Lampard has called on fans to have patience with the team as he brings in youngsters such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, who are already on their way to becoming stars.
“This is a club with a [transfer] ban, that has lost Eden Hazard, and two strikers from last year in Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain,” he said.
Group F is evenly poised, with Dortmund, Inter Milan, Barcelona and Slavia Prague on one point each after their opening draws.
The two favourites, Inter and Barcelona, face each other in the Camp Nou.