Tottenham Hotspur FC players were among the biggest winners at the FIFA World Cup, but that left the English Premier League club with a significantly weakened squad as it takes on FC Barcelona at the Rose Bowl on Saturday at 8 p.m. as part of the preseason International Champions Cup.
Tottenham had more players than any other team in the World Cup semifinals with nine — five English players including striker Harry Kane, three Belgians and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. These players all will be absent for Saturday’s game.
One key player who will be there is Korean winger Son Heung-Min. And despite the others’ absence, Son, who scored a combined 26 EPL goals in the last two seasons, said he did not feel extra pressure to assume a leadership role.
“I don’t think there’s a big difference in my role,” Son said. “We have a lot of experience on this team, and the younger players too like [Kyle] Walker-Peters, they’re very capable too.”
Son was the most popular figure at Friday’s open practice at StubHub Center, staying long after to sign autographs.
“It’s very special to have this kind of support,” Son said. “At Tottenham we’re all about taking care of our fans; we believe that’s very important. I’m just so lucky that I have all these people who would come out for me to see me train, to see me play football.”
Although fewer Barcelona players made deep runs at the World Cup, many of the Spanish champions’ most high-profile players also will be absent. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique were all left off the squad for Barcelona’s U.S. games, and players who made the World Cup semifinals, including Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, also will be out.