Everyone in north London is living the dream!

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Of course, Tottenham Hotspur have long been a force on the continent. They were the first British club to win a European trophy, lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup way back in 1963. And they won Euro Vase in 1972 and 1984. But making waves in Big Cup is another matter entirely. On Tuesday night, Spurs demanded to be taken seriously on the biggest stage of all by coming back from two goals down to secure an advantageous draw at Juventus. It was a performance symbolic of a club on the up, operating these days on an altogether higher plane. Where once there was Chris Armstrong, now there’s Harry Kane. Where once there was Tim Sherwood, now there’s Mauricio Pochettino. Where once there was Dave Mackay, now there’s Eric Di ... OK, but you get the general point. If this team reaches a cup final, Chas & Dave will have to seriously up their game for the novelty single. Maybe a tone poem this time, or a collaboration with Sunn O))).

It’s not beyond the realms. (Spurs getting to the final of Big Cup, that is, as opposed to London’s premier pub-rock revivalists experimenting with drone-metal textures.) Their comeback in Turin to draw 2-2 was notable for several reasons: Juve, Big Cup finalists in two of the last three years, were on a 10-game winning streak; they’d conceded only one goal in their previous 16 matches; and only once before in their history had they failed to win a home Big Cup tie having been two goals to the good. That last stat in particular may prove to be a precious omen, referencing as it does the time Roy Keane did a number on the Old Lady in 1999. If the Fiver’s memory serves, Manchester United didn’t do too badly after that.

“Not many teams come here and dominate Juventus,” noted Pochettino after the game. The Fiver isn’t sure whether the Spurs manager was wearing a big brazen grin while delivering that verdict, though we’re pretty sure Christian Eriksen was performing a jaunty hornpipe when loudly telling anyone who’d listen that: “We don’t care where we are or what time it is or which stadium we play in or which we team we play, we always try to dominate.” Of course, time will tell whether highly pleased Spurs have gone off a bit early here. But they’re now favourites to reach the quarters by finishing the job at Wembley in three weeks time, so in fairness they’ve probably earned the right to talk themselves up a bit. After all, you can be sure Arsenal won’t be shy of celebrating tomorrow night if they end their three-match losing away streak, at Östersunds. Which they surely will do. Everyone in north London is living the dream right now!


Join Scott Murray from 7.45pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of Porto 2-2 Liverpool, while Barry Glendenning will be on hand for Real Madrid 1-1 PSG.


“Yesterday was a sad day for one incredible young man @RyanMason. Although his story didn’t finish with ultimate happy ending, his determination, attitude and bravery he’s shown during his recovery is something to be admired and an inspiration for others! All the best Ryan” – Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech reaches out to Ryan Mason on Twitter after the former Tottenham and Hull midfielder announced his retirement on Tuesday.


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“I had thought my own encounter with a goalkeeping legend too trivial to mention, but Tim Grey’s submission yesterday made me re-evaluate due to some startling similarities with my own tale. At my school fete, sometime around 1986, I was surprised to find former Newcastle goalkeeper Kevin Carr involved in a ‘beat the goalie’ stall. After burying two of my three attempts (five-a-side goals, I’m pretty sure he went easy on me, but still 10p well spent) I had him sign the only object I had in my possession at the time: a seven-inch single of Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. The live version from the 75-85 box set if you’re interested in detail” – Graham Smith.

“Re the ongoing and highly sophisticated discussion concerning the distances the Proclaimers may or may not be willing to walk. It is worth noting that all these promises are, due to the clauses put forward in the second half opening verse, conditional. Craig and Charlie are only promising to undertake said (sung?) distances if they get drunk. Which, given their generally clean-living image, is by no means certain, even in light of the fact they’re Scottish. I don’t know what havering is, but there’s no guarantee that they will do this either, thus rendering any calculations of their individual commitment to walking potentially meaningless” – Tim Woods.

“This hot chat amongst the 1,057 about the Proclaimers’ walking habits is missing why all its sums are wrong. If (and it seems to be a big if) they went for a 1,000-mile stroll, 4.5 times more fervent would be a 5,500-mile journey; 4,500 miles would be 4.5 times as fervent. Now I just need to work out what ferventry measures” – Ben Clay.

“I am wondering if a Letter from America can succeed in ending all this Proclaimers-based nonsense of the last few editions. Ah ... I guess not” – Dave Form, Hamden, CT.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet The Fiver. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day isDave Form.


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Roberto Firmino
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Roberto Firmino has been talking the good talk before Liverpool’s Big Cup date in Porto. “I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer,” roared the forward.

Unai Emery is doing his best to forget PSG’s 6-1 Big Cup defeat at Barcelona last season but he can’t quite manage it as his side get ready to face Real Madrid. “Maybe the preparation for this match started in that game. It gave us an experience that we now want to make positive,” sobbed the manager.

And Sky and BT Sport have retained their hold on live televised Premier League football, paying £4.464bn to the clubs for the rights from 2019-22.


Proper Journalist David Conn on why the new TV deal doesn’t mean the Premier League bubble has burst.

Andy Brassell on Vincent Aboubakar, the Porto striker who has gone from a dressing-room faux pas to a red-hot scoring streak just in time to face Liverpool.

Sid Lowe and Eric Devin get out their calculators and do some number crunching as they rate Real Madrid and PSG’s teams.

Euro Vase is back, and Sachin Nakrani couldn’t be happier.

This week’s Knowledge: footballers joining and leaving a club soon after, featuring Clive Allen, Robert Jarni and David Unsworth.

Paul Wilson dives into the mess that is West Brom.

Let Ben Fisher tell you about Fulham, Ryan Sessegnon and what Slavisa Jokanovic thinks about in bed.

Steven Pye on when Arsenal showed France some tough love on 14 February 1989.

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