LONDON — Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham belong among the best teams in Europe and can win the Champions League after their stunning 3-1 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
Spurs qualified for the knockouts with two games to spare after Dele Alli’s double and a goal from Christian Eriksen inflicted a first group-stage defeat on the reigning champions since October 2012.
A first-half injury to Toby Alderweireld, who limped off with a muscle strain, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s late consolation goal did not dampen Pochettino’s spirits. Afterwards he said Europe would have to start taking notice of Tottenham.
“Obviously a win brings with it certain consequences in terms of making us more visible and it’s something everyone around Europe would have seen,” the Spurs manager said at Wembley.
“These have been two games against Real Madrid where we’ve been very competitive. Now the most important thing for us is that we’re through to the next round, we’re where we want to be. So we’ll look forward now hopefully to be well-placed in the group and get a good draw for the second round.
“What motivates us is to improve as a team, improve as a group to achieve our targets. You’ve all seen today that Tottenham is a big team. We’re playing at Wembley in front of 80,000 people. These are really historic occasions. Now we belong not only among the best in England, but in Europe. Results like this help people see where we’re going.”
Before the match, Pochettino said the “last step” for Spurs was to be “mentally stronger,” which felt poignant after last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, their fourth consecutive reverse at Old Trafford under Pochettino.
But he added: “We’re able to compete now with the biggest teams on a physical and a mental level and this is preparing us very well for what’s coming in the future and in particular in order for us to achieve the goals we have. Those goals are always of course to win to win big competitions, this is what we dream of.
“If we get there this year whether we do or we don’t that remains to be seen, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction.”
Dan is ESPN FC’s Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.