Why Harry Kane starting the Champions League final may not be best for Spurs

Alistair Tweedale
Harry Kane is back in full training - but will he be playing tonight? - Action Images via Reuters

With the rare luxury of a fully fit Tottenham squad, Mauricio Pochettino faces a selection dilemma up front fortoday's Champions League final.

Harry Kane is back from an ankle injury having not played since the first leg of the quarter-final against Manchester City on April 9, and has declared himself fit and available.

It is pretty widely agreed that Kane should go straight back into the starting lineup, given the galvanising effect his presence would have as well as his unquestionable impact on the pitch, but there are strong arguments against his inclusion that are worth considering.

Spurs made it this far without their talisman. All of their best performances in the knockout stages - the 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, the 4-3 defeat at City that saw them through the quarter-final, the extraordinary comeback at Ajax - came without Kane. Others stepped up in his absence.

Son Heung-min has produced some of his best performances when Kane has been missing, while Lucas Moura, the hero in Amsterdam and at Barcelona in the group stage, would be hugely unfortunate to be dropped - as seems likely - if Kane returns to the team.

Lucas Moura, the hero in Amsterdam, would be unfortunate to lose his place in the team should Kane return Credit: Getty images

There is also an advantage to playing two pacey forwards in tandem. Son and Lucas ran riot at the Etihad, breaking at speed into the space vacated by attack-minded opposition full-backs. There should be plenty of that to exploit on Saturday, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both encouraged to get forwards by Jurgen Klopp.

Perhaps playing more a direct style, running into the channels behind full-backs, would be a better approach than Kane playing with his back to goal with the colossal Virgil van Dijk no doubt in close quarters.

Finally, having only returned to full training a week ago, it is fair to presume that Kane may struggle to last the full 90 minutes in Madrid, where it is forecast to be 29 degrees when the game kicks off at 9pm local time. Pochettino would certainly want Kane available if the match were to go to penalties but choosing him in the starting lineup could rule that possibility out before the match has even kicked off.