Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has labelled Chelsea as favourites for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Chelsea sit top of the Premier League table but second-placed Spurs are the team in form, having cut the gap to four points by winning their last seven matches.
Tottenham also beat the Blues 2-0 in their most recent meeting at White Hart Lane in January but Pochettino’s young guns are yet to win a trophy under his leadership.
The team that started Spurs’ 4-0 victory against Bournemouth on Saturday have won 10 league titles between them, eight of them in Holland, while Chelsea’s side against Manchester United have claimed 18.
Pedro and Cesc Fabregas have both been world champions with Spain while Pedro, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and John Terry have all won the Champions League. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, meanwhile, clinched three Serie A titles with Juventus.
Pochettino said: “If there is one favourite it’s more Chelsea because they are on the top of the table in the Premier League and (with) the experienced players they have, and the manager that they have.
“We are talking of the team that maybe in the last five years has won European competitions, World Cups, a manager that won the league with Juventus in Italy.
“I think it’s a more experienced team than us. But we’re in a good moment too, a hungry team. To challenge now this type of club, of team, is a very important thing for Tottenham.”
Tottenham last lifted the FA Cup in 1991 and in the 16 years since Chelsea have won 17 major trophies.
“Now to win is more difficult,” Pochettino added. “You are competing with big clubs and big players.
“To reach that level that you challenge and you fight the likes of Chelsea, you compare the players and they have players that won World Cups.
“You compare that with our players. They have not won anything, maybe some players have some titles. But we are improving a lot.”
Danny Rose has started training again this week after recovering from a knee injury but this weekend will come too soon for the full-back.
Rose could, however, be back for the north London derby against Arsenal next weekend.
“Arsenal, maybe. For Saturday, no,” Pochettino said. “He’s okay, he’s doing well, he’s still not with the group but he’s at a very good level.”
Tottenham should, in theory, enjoy a feeling of home advantage at Wembley, where they have hosted all of their European games this season and are due to play home fixtures from the start of next term.
Their record at Wembley, however, has been poor. They won only one of their four Champions League and Europa League matches there and have managed only one victory in their last eight at the national stadium overall.
“Is Wembley an advantage or a disadvantage? I will tell you after the game,” Pochettino said.
“It’s true, we struggled a bit to get good results there but we need to make Wembley our home and get that feeling.
“It is a good chance Saturday to compete there because if we will move, next week the club decide, all happens in the way we hope, next season we move there and there’s no excuses.”
Pochettino also responded to reports that defender Toby Alderweireld has rejected a new contract offer from the club, amid interest from Inter Milan.
Alderweireld’s current deal expires in 2019 but Spurs hold an option to extend it until 2020.
“If some clubs are interested in some players, it’s very clear they need to go and knock on the door of Daniel Levy,” Pochettino said.
“The players that will leave the club is always our decision, the club’s decision. All the players today have contracts for the next two or three years minimum and we’re not worried.”