For Mauricio Pochettino, the scenic approach into Barcelona’s El Prat Airport and the familiar sweep through customs, usually comes with a sigh of relief and a welcome release of pressure.
‘Sometimes I escape from London to come to this magnificent city,’ he said on Monday night. ‘It is a city I relate to.’
Pochettino enjoyed two spells in the Catalan capital as an Espanyol player and became their manager, winning his first game in the derby at the Nou Camp.
Harry Kane falls to the ground as he and his Tottenham team-mates enjoy a training routine
Mauricio Pochettino returns to city of Barcelona to fight for survival in Champions League
The Premier League outfit trained inside an empty Nou Camp on Monday evening in Catalonia
His name is among the legends etched into the walls of their stadium and he is feted by their fans when he returns.
This time, however, Pochettino touched down with all his problems in tow.
To be sure of progress into the Champions League knock-out phase, Spurs must go in search of victory in a stadium where Barcelona have not lost in this competition since September 2013.
It is a formidable unbeaten run, stretching over 28 games. If they avoid defeat on Tuesday night they will equal a competition record set by Bayern Munich, 16 years ago.
Dele Alli (centre) concentrates as the Spurs players keep sharp ahead of Tuesday’s clash
Christian Eriksen (bottom left) and Kane (bottom right) cool down after their training session
Kane (centre) tries to intercept the ball during a training drill at the Nou Camp on Monday
Tottenham, by contrast, are struggling on the road in Europe, winning only four of the last 17 away games.
Had they not lost in stoppage time at Inter Milan or conceded a late equaliser at PSV Eindhoven this season, they would not be in this predicament.
As it stands, they must become only the third English team to beat Barcelona here to be sure of going through.
For all the progress under Pochettino, he has not yet matched Harry Redknapp, the newly crowned King of the Jungle on ITV’s reality show ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ who led Spurs to the last eight in 2011.
‘Congratulations to Harry,’ grinned the Argentine. ‘That’s one trophy for us. At least. Come on.’
Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was crowned as the winner of ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity’
Fail to win and Tottenham will require a favour from PSV at the San Siro.
‘We will know what’s going on there,’ said Pochettino. ‘I’m not going to say only my focus is on this game and then find out their result at the end. It is important to know. But it is more important to do our job.
‘I am optimistic. I always believe we will arrive at our best. We need to think like this. It is so important, a must-win game.’
Kyle Walker-Peters is set to be thrust into the team at right-back with Serge Aurier joining Kieran Trippier among the ranks of injured and ineligible.
Walker-Peters, 21, who signed a new contract on Monday tying him to the club until 2023, has started only once this season, in the Carabao Cup at West Ham.
Kyle Walker-Peters is set to be thrust into the team at right-back against Barcelona on Tuesday
Jan Vertonghen (left) and Harry Winks (right) stretch before being put through their paces
‘I want to remind you Kyle won the Under 20 World Cup and his quality is unbelievable,’ said Pochettino. ‘You need to trust young players and one day start to play them. We don’t have doubts about Kyle’s performance.
‘To play in the Nou Camp will make him stronger than before. We trust in him and whatever happens he will be a success in the long term for this club.’
Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth are all out but Erik Lamela is back and there are glimmers of hope for Tottenham.
Not least because Ernesto Valverde is expected to rest some of his senior players as he did last season when Barcelona had won their group with a game to spare.
Valverde has confirmed that Luis Suarez, who returned from injury on Saturday, will not be asked to start again so soon afterwards.
‘Suarez is one of the best strikers in the world, together with Harry Kane,’ said Pochettino. ‘Barcelona will miss him but we know they have an unbelievable squad. For many years they play with the same philosophy.
‘I am not focused on the starting 11. We will play against Barcelona and always the pressure is on them to win. Not only to win, but to play for something special. Like us. We play for Tottenham.
‘The names of the players are not important. Different players have different qualities but they are going to be strong and motivated to show they can compete for more minutes. I expect a strong and motivated Barcelona.’
Lionel Messi, who scored twice against Spurs at Wembley in October, is expected to play
Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that Luis Suarez will not be asked to start again on Tuesday
Lionel Messi, who scored twice against Spurs at Wembley in October and twice against Espanyol on Saturday to take his tally to 17 in all competitions for the season, is expected to play.
And Pochettino was happy to play along with the locals in Barcelona, when asked his opinion on the voting in the Ballon d’Or won by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, with Messi failing to make the top five.
‘When you talk about Lionel Messi you talk about the best in the world,’ he said. ‘Nobody who knows the slightest thing about football doubts that Messi is the best.’
Which should be enough to secure him a warm welcome when he returns on his next recreational break. Even if he can pull off an astonishing result in the Nou Camp.