LONDON (Reuters) - Dele Alli was a spectator when Tottenham Hotspur earned a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid earlier this month but after a frustrating wait he will get his first taste of Champions League action this season in Wednesday’s return at Wembley.
The attacking midfielder’s red card for a dreadful tackle in last season’s Europa League exit at the hands of Belgian side Gent made him ineligible for Tottenham’s first three Champions League games this season.
The north London club have done well without him, taking seven points from their first three Group H games and victory over Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid on Wednesday would guarantee a last-16 spot with two games to spare.
Alli will be desperate to make an impression after he appeared in all six of Tottenham’s group games last season when they failed to emerge from the group after home defeats by Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco.
His return will be a boost as Tottenham try to beat Madrid for the first time at the sixth attempt, although he said that they must learn quickly after a 1-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester United at the weekend stopped their recent momentum in its tracks.
“We don’t just want to compete, we want to win and as a team, we’re frustrated,” Alli, who wasted a golden chance against United shortly before the hosts grabbed a late winner, said. “We’ve got a huge game coming up in Real Madrid.
“It’s important we learn from this, work on what’s gone wrong and keep building as a team because we’re still in a fantastic position and we’ve been in good form.
“We can’t let (the United defeat) knock us back.”
Tottenham are still sweating on the fitness of striker Harry Kane ahead of Wednesday’s clash after a hamstring tweak meant he was unable to feature at Old Trafford.
Kane has five goals already in the Champions League this season and his absence would be a bitter blow for Mauricio Pochettino as he seeks a first victory over Real as a manager, having lost all seven when he was in charge of Espanyol in La Liga.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge