Mauricio Pochettino relishing Tottenham's 'special' Real Madrid test
MADRID -- Mauricio Pochettino says the challenge of playing against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu will show how close his young Tottenham side are from taking the "last step" towards fulfilling their potential.
Spurs face the reigning European champions in the Spanish capital on Tuesday with both teams having made a 100 percent winning start to their Champions League Group H campaign.
Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are pursuing a third successive Champions League and have built a formidable home record in the competition in recent seasons, and Pochettino says there can be no sterner test of his team's capabilities than 90 minutes at the Bernabeu.
"It is something special to play at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid," former Espanyol boss Pochettino said. "For English players to play here, it is a dream too.
"When you play here, you feel you are ready for the reality of football. It's a great opportunity and everyone is excited by the opportunity.
"It's clear at competition level that we are young, but we have [Hugo] Lloris and [Fernando] Llorente who are older and have experience.
"We are playing the best team in the world, but we still don't have that experience. We play in the Premier League, but that last step feels close and it can be quite difficult to reach.
"This game gives us a great chance to see where we are at a physical and mental level, though, and it can show us how much we can grow as a team. It is a big opportunity for us to show we can compete at this level."
Tottenham captain Lloris echoed Pochettino's comments by claiming that Zidane's team are the best in the world.
"We built good confidence with the Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia wins, but nothing has been won and the confrontation with Real will be very important for us," Lloris said. "It is a chance to play the best team in the world, we are a young side and it is a good chance to take our game to a new level.
"The most important thing for us is to be ready to compete and we will try to be dominant and aggressive from the start because it's a fantastic place to play football.
"They have such talent in the squad, they can score at any moment, but we are excited about the challenge."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_