Where did it all to wrong for Tottenham's Champions League campaign?

They were knocked-out of the tournament with one game to go in the group stage

BY Simon Maguire 14:27 Wednesday 7 December 2016, 14:27 7 Dec 2016

Tottenham Hotspur Harry Kane appears dejected after the final whistle. Picture by Adam Davy EMPICS Sport

Although Tottenham's 2015/16 Premier League title tilt ended in failure, they were able to focus on the positive of having qualified automatically for the group stages of the Champions League. 

Almost 6 months later, their campaign at the top echelon of European football is over before Christmas. We look at what went wrong for Pochettino's side.

Injuries to key players

Tottenham's main goal threat, Harry Kane, injured himself in their match with Sunderland in mid September. By that stage, Spurs had already lost to Monaco at Wembley and were under pressure to turn it around.

Although they won in Moscow, the striker missed the crunch ties with Bayer Leverkusen. By the time he returned, Spurs were unable to turn their poor form around.   

Toby Alderweireld also missed the games against Leverkusen and the game against Monaco. In his absence, the Londoner's lost two and drew one of their games.

Loss of form

Some of the team's star players from the season before struggled to find the form that saw their title challenge ignite after Christmas. 

Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen failed to reach the heights of the previous season in Kane's absence when the team needed a talisman. Eric Dier has also appeared off the pace and Vincent Janssen has so far failed to live up to the hype after his summer transfer from AZ Alkmaar.

Moussa Dembele ran the Spurs' midfield last term but had to sit out the start of the season as he completed a domestic suspension after the fracas at Chelsea in May. Pochettino preferred not to risk the Belgian's lack of match fitness in Europe and the team struggled to command any of the games they played.

Wembley effect

The fact that Spurs' home games were played away from White Hart Lane and at the home of English football appeared to galvanise opposition teams and stretch Tottenham's high press tactics.  

In previous years, "The Lane" was a cauldron for European games. The stand is right beside the pitch and the atmosphere can be intimidating when the fans get going. Wembley is a completely different animal and Spurs struggled to adapt to their new surroundings.

Arsenal had similar trouble playing at the national stadium between 1998 and 2000 when they failed to get past the group stage on either occasion.

What next?

A draw tonight will be good enough to secure a Europa League spot but whether or not that is something the club wants remains to be seen.

Despite Tottenham's apparent struggles this season, they find themselves only three points behind both Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League. They travel to Old Trafford this weekend and a win there would put nine points between themselves and Jose Mourinho's side. 

Maybe they're waiting to click into gear after Christmas again. 

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