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Should Tottenham choose Erik Lamela or Son Heung-Min against Juventus?

The ESPN FC crew explain why they're picking Tottenham to see off Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League tie.
The ESPN FC crew explain why they're picking Tottenham to see off Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League tie.

Mauricio Pochettino has an intriguing selection dilemma ahead of Wednesday's Champions League showdown with Juventus -- Son Heung-Min or Erik Lamela?

Lamela got the nod for the first leg in Turin, which ended 2-2, and was then named on the bench against Huddersfield on Saturday, seemingly being rested ahead of another start against the Old Lady.

But Son scored twice against the Terriers and was interestingly withdrawn with 20 minutes left, with Lamela taking his place. Did his performance force Pochettino into a rethink midway through the match, and could the South Korean now get the nod?

Ben Pearce and Dan Kilpatrick make the case for each player.

Why Son should start -- Pearce

Son Heung-Min
Son Heung-Min has scored before the 30-minute mark in Tottenham's past two home matches.

It made some sense for Pochettino to pick Lamela in the first leg as he had experience playing in Italy with Roma. But Tottenham are back on home turf now and few of their players are as dangerous at Wembley as Son.

The South Korean has scored four goals across two home matches in the past week, against Rochdale and Huddersfield, and 13 of his 15 strikes this season have come at the national stadium.

That eye for goal under the arch could be useful given that Harry Kane has been a little wasteful recently.

Kane has still scored in nine of his past 11 games, but there is value in having an additional goal threat and Son has the edge over Lamela there. There will be an argument that Son would be a useful substitute, providing an injection of pace in the closing stages. But he has also proven adept at making valuable early contributions at Wembley this season.

The 25-year-old scored four minutes into Spurs' first European group match against Borussia Dortmund and then registered in the 12th minute of the 4-1 win against Liverpool.

So far in 2018 he has provided the breakthrough before the 30-minute mark in three home matches, including the past two.

Even before he struck against Huddersfield on Saturday, Son's dazzling early run between four players helped to assert Spurs' dominance and alarm their opponents.

He could, similarly, help Tottenham set the right tone and make a positive start against Juventus, pushing the visitors back and inspiring the home crowd.

Meanwhile, his presence could allow Pochettino's left-back -- probably Ben Davies -- to focus on defending rather than pushing forward.

Lamela tends to drift infield and leave Spurs with quite a narrow front four, putting more onus on both full-backs to provide attacking width. That could be dangerous on Wednesday -- one wrong move could leave Juventus' wide men running into the space behind.

Risk and reward will need to be carefully considered given the north Londoners are already ahead in the tie.

If Son plays, he will attack down the touchline as well as cutting into central areas, allowing Davies to stay behind him as a support act.

For all these reasons, Son should get the nod.

Why Lamela should start -- Kilpatrick

Erik Lamela's passing could prove valuable for Tottenham against Juventus.

There are some players you just want in the biggest games and Lamela is one of them. Just as Alex Ferguson would pick Park Ji-Sung for every Champions League knockout match, so Pochettino should pick Lamela against Juventus.

True, Lamela is not as clinical or decisive as Son in the final third, nor is he as creative. But it will be a night when other qualities are more important and Lamela, like Park, has them.

The Argentine is the embodiment of Pochettino's philosophy, and his relentless intensity sets the tone of Spurs' pressing game.

Tottenham's first job on Wednesday will, after all, be to stop Juventus from scoring and Lamela is a more tactically disciplined player than Son. His selfless work off the ball (and niggly fouls) will help to disrupt Juventus' play and frustrate the Italians.

Son's record at Wembley is impressive, but it would be folly to say Spurs cannot win big games at the national stadium without him, given he was an unused substitute in the 3-1 win against Real Madrid.

The South Korean has been most impressive against lesser teams at home recently -- Rochdale, Huddersfield, Southampton and Stoke -- but Juventus are perhaps the finest defensive side in Europe and they will not give him the opportunity to turn and sprint into space.

In fact, Lamela's ability to pick a stubborn lock with a cute pass might prove an even more valuable weapon than anything Son can offer.

Pochettino said he picked Lamela in the first leg for his experience in Italian football and he proved in Turin why he is such an asset.

Why change a working formula? His knowledge of Juve will again be important -- he was unbeaten in two home matches against the Bianconeri with Roma -- particularly as the visitors are likely to try every trick in the book to frustrate Spurs.

It's a squad game, after all, and both Son and Lamela can play here. But Son would be best utilised as an impact sub after Lamela has worn Juventus down.

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