It was not the first time the 28-year-old had been late but unlike on previous occasions, when he was either fined or made to pay for a meal for the rest of his teammates, he has paid a higher price and been omitted altogether. Even so, Pochettino tried to downplay the issue at a Press conference on Friday: “The word punishment is quite harsh but there are rules we have to live by,” said the Argentine. “I’m not disappointed as we all make mistakes and I still have the same confidence I had in him at a humane level. But when you don’t obey the rules there are consequences. However, we have to turn the page and hope these things do not happen again.”
Speaking about Saturday’s game Pochettino highlighted the dangers possessed by Valencia. He said: “They are a team that presses the ball and we must play very quickly with two or three touches and make our passing count. Above all we need to improve on keeping possession because they are lethal when they have the ball.
“They are much more solid than last year and we will be up against very intense opponents who play good football. They also have some very determined players but we must try to play in our own style.”