The Chalkboard: Tottenham should avoid starting Erik Lamela against Barcelona

Tottenham Hotspur face a crucial Champions League tie against Barcelona on Tuesday night, and Mauricio Pochettino may well have a big conundrum to deal with when it comes to selecting his starting XI.

Spurs know that a win at the Camp Nou will guarantee them a spot in the knockout stages, but as long as they match or equal Inter Milan’s result – the Serie A giants face PSV Eindhoven in Italy – then they will also qualify.

The former certainly won’t be easy to achieve however, seeing as the La Liga champions have won 23 and drawn two of their previous 25 home Champions League matches since they were beaten by Bayern Munich in 2013.

On the chalkboard

While Mauricio Pochettino would love to set his team up in an attacking way against the Catalan outfit to get the win that the north London outfit require, in reality whichever side he selects will likely spend the majority of the game defending and in their own half.

Winger Erik Lamela has featured in all five of the club’s European fixtures to date, but perhaps would have been a doubt previously having missed the last three Premier League matches because of injury.

However, he is contention to play against Barca having been part of the travelling party to Spain, and will be competing with Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura to start.

Why shouldn’t Lamela start?

The Argentina international has shown that he can be a liability when it comes to committing fouls for Tottenham in both the English top flight and in Europe this term – he has committed 12 in each competition and three more than any of his teammates despite only featuring for 275 minutes in the Champions League, picking up two yellow cards in the process.

The 26-year-old will likely spend the majority of his time tracking back and defending at the Camp Nou, and with Lionel Messi in brilliant free-kick goalscoring form at the moment Pochettino can’t afford to have someone likely to give silly fouls away too often in and around the penalty area on Tuesday.