Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is personally ‘motivated’ to face Barcelona: “I am an Espanyol fan.”
The Argentine spent two years as a player and three as a Coach at Espanyol, while he has also been linked to a future coaching capacity at Real Madrid.
“I am an Espanyol fan so of course playing against Barcelona is a massive motivating factor,” Pochettino told an interview with Marca.
“I lived and worked in Barcelona for many years so it is always nice to have the opportunity to return in a professional capacity, I have a lot of friends there.
“I have an enormous level of respect for Barcelona but my road is different from them, I have gone in a different direction and coaching them in the future would be impossible.
“Last season we played against Real Madrid and now we face Barca, this is why we are honoured to be in this competition because it improves everyone and focuses us all to continue to improve.
“Barcelona are different in that there is no more Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta – they were unique footballers who were impossible to replace.
“Ernesto Valverde has had to change that because the players are different, so they have the same principles but have more nuance to their play.
“They have great players; Lionel Messi is the best in the world while Philippe Coutinho is outstanding and they have talent throughout the team.
“I still watch a lot of Spanish football, you must remember that I have duel citizenship. I like to follow Real Madrid in particular but watching lots of different football is great – it keeps me informed and entertained!”