Crouch sets aside family ties for mother of all 'cup finals' at Eastlands

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The Independent Online

Peter Crouch has described Tottenham Hotspur's match with Manchester City tomorrow night as a cup final and has told fans the club is ready to finally make the step up to the Champions League, four years after missing out in agonising fashion.

If Spurs beat Roberto Mancini's side at Eastlands then they will qualify, at City's expense, for Europe's elite competition for the first time since it was revamped. Thanks to their one-point advantage, if Spurs draw, a win away to Burnley on Sunday on the last day of the season would also see them reach the Champions League where they would start in the final qualifying round.

"It's a cup final really," the England forward said. "It's winner takes all. It's in our own hands. I would rather be in our position than anybody else's, we just have to go there and get a result."

Crouch has played in the Champions League before, including the final against Milan in 2007 during his time with Liverpool, and he wants to play in it again, even if it upsets his mother.

He said: "It is where every footballer wants to be, the night games, the great atmosphere. When the music starts the hair on the back of your neck stands up. It's fantastic. A club like Tottenham deserves to be there as they are such a big club with fantastic fans who backed us all the way. To get some of the big European games down at the Lane would be just magic.

"I can remember going to Maine Road [City's previous ground] at Christmas to watch games. I have a lot of memories of Man City. My mum is a City fan, she will be there, it is difficult, I hope Tottenham can qualify and it will make it even sweeter knowing it's at the expense of City. She will be at the match without a doubt."

Crouch, who has scored 12 goals this season, admits that tension could play a part tomorrow, but believes that the pressure is greater for Mancini's side. Even if City beat Spurs, then they need to win at West Ham on Sunday to guarantee reaching the Champions League.

The England international, 29, said: "It can be a nerve-racking time but City are in the same position as us. We have had the belief all season that we could get fourth and it has come down to two games. For both of us the game is a fantastic chance of getting there. It will be an exciting game. I hope the match lives up to what it should be." Crouch knows his team-mates have an extra incentive to qualify after what happened four years ago. In 2006, they lost on the last day of the season against West Ham, when a win would have put them in the Champions League. They lost several first-team players on the eve of the game due to food poisoning and Arsenal qualified instead.

Crouch said: "Perhaps the hardest part is getting over the line because no one here has done it before, the top four have been the top four for so long.

"For me the achievement of breaking into that top four will be fantastic. We have had a great season regardless of whether we make the Champions League but having come this far it would be a great disappointment if we don't make it."

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