Hugo Lloris has endured a mistake-filled season, but the Tottenham goalkeeper knows his costly blunders will be forgotten if he can lead his side to Champions League success against Manchester City. Lloris will captain Tottenham in Tuesday's All-English quarter-final first leg showdown with City at the north London club's new stadium.
And the France star will be firmly in the spotlight on what promises to be a busy evening given City's attacking prowess. Lloris has been well below his best for much of this term, with his latest clanger coming in the last minute of a damaging 2-1 defeat at Liverpool last weekend when he sparked a Toby Alderweireld own goal by spilling Mohamed Salah's header.
The 32-year-old has shown alarmingly bad judgement all season. In Tottenham's 2-2 group stage draw against PSV Eindhoven, Lloris suffered a rush of blood as he needlessly sprinted outside his penalty area to foul Hirving Lozano, earning a straight red card that inspired the Dutch side to snatch a last equaliser. Lloris had already been at fault for Barcelona's opening goal in the 4-2 group stage defeat at Wembley, which saw Tottenham fall behind with barely a minute on the clock. The France captain was also embarrassed in last year's World Cup final by Croatia's Mario Mandzukic, although that blunder was ignored as his country carried home the trophy.
In the midst of these howlers, Lloris was arrested for drink-driving in London, an offence that earned him a 20-month driving ban and �50,000 fine. Despite such a wretched run of form, Lloris has retained the support of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Reports in recent weeks claim Pochettino has no intention of looking for another keeper at the end of the season, such is his faith in Lloris. Part of that belief is grounded in Lloris's role as an influential figure in the dressing room.
- Rallying cry -
That leadership earned him the captain's armband and was on show as he issued a rallying cry to his team-mates ahead of the City clash. With Tottenham bidding to reach their first European semi-final since the 1984 UEFA Cup, Lloris knows the team will need the vocal backing of the home support to rattle City. Pep Guardiola's Premier League title chasers are eyeing an unprecedented quadruple after reaching the FA Cup final and winning the League Cup already this season. It should be a raucous occasion as Tottenham finally deliver on their much-derided promise that their �1 billion abode would be the only place in London to watch Champions League action this season.
When Tottenham spent over half of this season playing at their temporary Wembley home due to delays in finishing the new arena, it appeared the PR boast, splashed on posters all around London, would come back to bite them. But the sparkling 62,062-capacity stadium was opened amid much pomp for the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Now Lloris wants Tottenham to tap into the crowd's passion in the same way Liverpool fed off the Anfield atmosphere in last season's Champions League quarter-final win over City. "At some moments in the game, we feel the power," Lloris said.
"I think this can be a help for the team. We will need the crowd for every game. "Of course, this is a big moment for the club. To be part of a quarter-final for the Champions League is a great opportunity." Lloris is well aware City imploded twice last season when faced with the intensity of the Anfield effect and he believes a repeat is possible in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. "The target is to make City's life harder. To be ready to compete from the first minute," Lloris said. "We know we're going to have the help of the crowd and so we have just to enjoy the moment. "When I say to enjoy, I mean to enjoy running, defending, attacking, to enjoy everything that can be decisive.
(With inputs from agencies.)