Tottenham Hotspur narrowly missed the top four last season and took archrivals Arsenal all the way to the last day of term neck and neck.
However, whilst Spurs didn’t quite make it for this season’s Champions League, they certainly belong in the continent’s most elite competition – in fat if they played in pretty much any other league in Europe they would be in the Champions League year in year out. Here are five solid reasons Tottenham belong in the Champions League…
1) Squad Quality
It’s difficult to compare the squads of the 32 teams involved in the Champions League this term with Tottenham’s squad in terms of quality but the most obvious and fairest way of judging is on the overall value of the players. The average value of a Champions League club’s squad is £265.75 million – Real Madrid have the most expensive squad at £513.48 million worth of players and FC Viktoria Pizen have the lowest value at just £18 million.
Tottenham’s overall squad value is £275 million, which actually means they’ve got more quality in their squad than 23 out of the 32 teams. They would sit 10th in the valuations league ahead of last season’s finalists Borussia Dortmund and behind Italian champions Juventus.
2) Player Quality
Meanwhile, judging the overall squad values could potentially be overlooking the fact that many clubs require only one or two world class players and the other squad members and perhaps even 10 out of the starting XI on any given Champions League night are not even close to being considered world class. How do you judge world class is another valid question but again valuation is a fairly accurate barometer of quality. So, how about if we consider any player valued above £25 million to be of world-class quality?
How many players worth over £25 million does the average Champions League club have their squad? Well, the current reining champions Bayern Munich have 9 players valued over £25 million but 15 of the 32 clubs in this season’s competition don’t have a single world-class player worth over £25 million. The overall average across the 32 teams is 1.6 world-class players. Tottenham have two in Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela both valued at £26.5 million.
Valuation is only one way to assess the overall quality of a squad, however – there are also other gauges such as how many senior internationals a squad has. Barcelona, for example, have 18 senior internationals in their squad but the actual average number of senior international players per club is 13. Spurs have 16 senior international players in their squad.
So, that’s the squad quality but what about the quality of the manager? Many clubs can have a great squad of players but if they don’t have the right mastermind behind them, they don’t get very far. How do you judge a manager though when they’re all different ages and in different leagues? By their career win percentage is how.
For example, Bayern Munich’s new coach Pep Guardiola has the highest win percentage of 73.4% wins in his career. But, Real Sociedad manager Jagoba Arrasate’s win percentage is just 31.5%. The average manager in the Champions League has a career win percentage of 52% wins – Andre Villas-Boas has 60% wins across his career so far.
Okay so you’ve got the right players and the right manager but how do you assess whether they can hold their own in the Champions League? You can’t really test it out on goals because all the leagues in Europe are not of the same quality or quantity in terms of games so how do you do it? Well, how about looking at the average possession stats per game. That’s a fairly good indicator of whether a team is holding their own or being played off the pitch.
Bayern Munich take the highest average possession per game of all with 65% share of possession whilst Steau Bucharest average the lowest possession share on average at just 34.5%. Tottenham are actually the second highest in the Premier League in terms of possession with 59.9% on average.
Overall, I have absolutely no doubt that Tottenham have the quality in their squad as well as the strength and depth required to go the distance as they have enough world class players to compete in the competition as well as a top notch manager and are more than capable of matching any team on their day.
Their only downfall is playing in the best league on the continent where so many teams fight for Champions League places, that’s the only real difference between Tottenham and the 32 teams involved in the Champions League. If Tottenham were in La Liga, they'd be in the Champions League. If they played in Serie A, they'd be in the Champions League - if they played in the Bundesliga, the SPL, the Primeira Liga, Ligue 1, the Super Lig - if they played in any other league in Europe, they'd be in the Champions League.
Spurs are officially ranked by UEFA as the 17th best club in Europe - there are no less than 17 clubs involved in the Champions League this season ranked below Spurs by the Champions League's own authority system, including last season's finalists Dortmund in 18th. The only club above them in UEFA's rankings not involved in the Champions League this season is Valencia (ranked 8th). Several other clubs who are domestic champions are below Spurs including Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Olympiacos, and Galatasaray to name but a few.
image: © Jan S0L0