Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko spurred on by France's Euro 2016 final defeat
LONDON -- Moussa Sissoko is still getting over France's defeat in the final of Euro 2016 but the Tottenham midfielder says the big-game experience will be important in the Champions League match at Real Madrid.
Sissoko, who was one of the stars of the tournament, played in the hosts' extra-time defeat to Portugal at the Stade de France in July 2016, six weeks before his £30 million move from Newcastle United to Spurs.
On Tuesday, Sissoko, who was abject in his first season in London, will face Portugal and Real talisman Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since that night and he says the memory is still painful.
"Of course sometimes I still think about this game. I'm still sad," Sissoko said. "It was a massive final at home and we lost but now it's over. I need to look forward. It's a different game [on Tuesday] with another team, so I will not think about the last Euro game with France.
"It wasn't easy. We don't play a final every day and, especially because we played at home, we wanted to bring the trophy [home]. We couldn't for some reason -- that's football -- but we need to carry on and look forward. We have a couple of years to play and then I hope to have a chance to a play a final again [at next summer's World Cup] and bring some titles home.
"Of course, it helps you to prepare for the type of game like Tuesday. A final is a massive game and to play against Madrid away is similar. We have the chance to play against some of the best players in the world. But we will go there without pressure. I know we have a good team and a strong squad. It won't be easy but we will go there to try to play, give our best on the pitch and hopefully come back with something."
Sissoko will also face countrymen Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane if he features at the Santiago Bernabeu and he said that he had discussed the game with the France centre-half during the international break.
"I've spoken with Varane about this game," Sissoko said. "To joke, I said to him, 'If I go there, a penalty would be good!' He was laughing. But when you play a big game, you focus on your team and forget about your friends. I don't know if I will play or not, I will be prepared to give my best for helping the team.
"I'm excited and we're all excited because Real Madrid are the last champions of the Champions League and they're a big team, and it's away. When you're a Spurs player, you're excited to play this type of game. We will go there without pressure and try to play the game normally and hopefully come back with some points from the Bernabeu."
Sissoko has been much improved this season playing in a more central role -- which he feels is his "best position" -- and he could play from the start against Real, with Dele Alli suspended and Mousa Dembele a doubt after missing the last four league games.
The 28-year-old, who insists there is still more to come from him in a Spurs shirt, says big Champions League games are the reason he chose to join the club.
He said: "I came to Tottenham because, although I respect Newcastle, for me Tottenham is better than Newcastle and they try to win the title in the league and you have a chance to play in the Champions League and that's what I wanted. Now I have an opportunity to play this type of game, so I wanted to join.
"I try to be better and better in every game. Maybe I'm doing well at the moment but it's not the end. I will try to be better in every game, play well and help the team to win a lot of games. I try to make some passes [assists] and some goals because I'm a midfielder and that's what we need."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.