By Joe Harker
Ouch. Two games into the Champions League for Tottenham Hotspur and two defeats are the result. Even worse, both Inter Milan and Barcelona have six points to Spurs zero meaning the English club has the unenviable task of playing catch up.
Every game in their group stage is now a must win encounter, particularly against Inter and Barcelona. Not only must Spurs get some points on the table, they also need to deny them to their opponents to avoid a situation where it becomes mathematically impossible to catch up.
The loss to Barcelona featured a masterclass from forward Lionel Messi, often regarded as the greatest player of all time. He put Spurs to the sword and The Guardian's Barney Ronay believes his display highlighted the disparity between the two clubs. Messi's performance had Mauricio Pochettino's men "toiling on a lower plane of sporting reality".
Phil McNulty of the BBC suggested that Spurs were hit with the sobering reality that they are not one of the top club sides in Europe. Better teams than them have been ripped to shreds by Messi but a year on from manager Pochettino claiming they "not only belong with the best in England but in Europe" this was a sharp rebuke.
They are a club without a trophy for a decade who have come close to mounting a title challenge in the last few seasons. Nothing can be taken for granted in the Champions League and they are facing the prospect of being booted out at the group stage.
That is a problem for a club whose manager has said the Premier League and Champions League are their main objectives. Pochettino believes it would be a "big mistake" to focus on the FA Cup or Carabao Cup but his admirable side are not challenging for the competitions they want to focus on.
Former Spurs player and manager Glen Hoddle believes Pochettino needs to forget about the big trophies and focus on winning a domestic cup. Although the club have big ambitions to win major trophies they may have to content themselves with lesser pieces of silverware. Hoddle said: "What's the point of getting in the top four if you're not good enough to get out of the group stages of the Champions League? I don't get it.
"Players want to win things and if that's the FA Cup or League Cup, I think it's a stepping stone. That would be a foundation to go and win something else, something bigger further down the line."
Their difficult position in the Champions League is unenviable but does not mean they should be discounted yet. The Independent reports that 10 clubs have been in a similar predicament and still managed to get past the group stage. Spurs' next two European fixtures are against PSV, the lowest ranked team in their group. If Pochettino's men can win both of those games they can see what the group looks like then. Inter and Barcelona will have taken points off each other after two consecutive clashes so this is Spurs' chance to close the gap. They're not out of it yet.