Tottenham Hotpsur's Harry Kane and Mauricio Pochettino at a Champions League press conference. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON - Mauricio Pochettino has not tried to dodge the glamour of Real Madrid as he limbers up for Tuesday night's Champions League fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There have been no attempts to pass it off as just another game when the European champions have a dozen replica trophies shimmering in their museum.

His public addresses have been liberally sprinkled with accolades for the "best team in the world", "biggest club in the world" and "best player in the world" in reference to Cristiano Ronaldo.

He has told his audiences that Tottenham will be ready for the challenge and told his players to play in the Bernabeu is a "dream" and a footballing "baptism".

"When you come here you feel the reality of football," said Pochettino before taking his squad out to train in this famous arena with the steep tiers of blue seating disappearing high into the sky.

He accepted there would be comparisons between the goal feats of Harry Kane and Ronaldo and did not deter them because he wants to see Kane strive for the same extraordinary heights of achievement.

But, when questions came his way about Kane, the future and the stories about a £177million transfer bid from Real, Pochettino drew a line and refused to go further. Instead, he turned from Spain to Italy and summoned the example of one-club hero Francesco Totti, who retired in May at the age of 40 after 24 years as a first-team player at Roma.

"I know Harry was so emotional when he saw Totti’s farewell at Roma, after only playing at one club," said Pochettino. "I said maybe Harry Kane can have the same career. Maybe that can provide extra motivation.

"The most important thing is that he’s happy at Tottenham and in the future, who knows where he’ll be? He enjoys Tottenham, he comes from the academy and he identifies with the club. He’s a player who likes scoring, loves the Tottenham shirt. I hope he stays with us for a long time because he has great quality and is a great professional."

Much of the Pochettino project at Spurs has been about faith, trust, self-belief and the learning process of his "young team" as they learn to compete with Europe’s elite clubs.

The last time Tottenham played at the Bernabeu, in April 2011, they were thrashed 4-0 in the first leg of a quarter-final, with Peter Crouch sent off. Last season in the Champions League, all did not go to plan. This year though has started with six points from two games, convincing Real boss Zinedine Zidane to bill this match as the "final" to establish the group winners.

Spurs have plenty of confidence inside the camp, with a tight defensive unit, a pleasing balance, a strong away record and Kane in form.

"We’re looking forward to it," said captain Hugo Lloris. "It’s a big opportunity for all of us to face probably the best club in Europe in the last few years, one of the biggest clubs in the world, with the best players.

"There is always something to prove. The target is to be competitive and enjoy our football, to make a great team performance and to show the face of Tottenham — to play with our concepts, to keep possession, to be aggressive and try to be dominant."

Lloris knows how it feels to emerge triumphant from the Bernabeu. His saves helped Lyon secure a draw and an aggregate win in the last 16, in 2010.

"We have nothing to lose and all to win and we will play with this spirit," he added. "We have to try to believe in ourselves. It is a collective sport and it is possible to make great achievements."

Tottenham are evolving nicely but their success does not go unnoticed by the wealthier clubs and in particular Real, who have enjoyed a fine return on Gareth Bale and Luka Modric.

It worked for the two players in question, launched into a world of fame and fortune and crowned European champions three times in four years.

"After four seasons with Tottenham, where I had grown as much as possible, I needed new challenges," said Modric. "Real Madrid were ideal, and when I knew they were interested I couldn’t think about anything else.

"Signing helped me move up to the next level. I am playing the best football of my career and feel better every day. Playing in the Bernabeu is special. It is the best stadium I have played in and I relish each moment."

Regardless of Totti, Real have Kane firmly in their sights. So too Dele Alli, who is perhaps not so intricately woven into the fabric of Spurs. Will they feel, like Modric, they have outgrown Spurs?

Similarly, Pochettino is aware of his admirers in Madrid, having placed himself in the anti-Barcelona camp with his recent attack on Pep Guardiola.

And to be in the anti-Barcelona camp is to be in Real Madrid’s camp, ever more so in the current political climate.

There are many factors at play on Tuesday night, not to mention the thrill of the football between two of the most exciting teams in Europe on one of its finest stages.

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