Match date & time: Thursday 2nd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.
Competition: Europa League Group C.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
TV: Live on ITV4 in the UK. Full worldwide TV listings HERE.
The Europa League is here again! And I’m really, really looking forward to this game. We’re coming up against a good team, with fantastic away support that will bring an electric European atmosphere to White Hart Lane. I always enjoy the European games at the Lane – there is something special about watching Tottenham under the lights, donning that all white strip with the Tottenham faithful hopefully belting out songs and getting behind the team in a difficult game. The game will be tight, fiercely contested and full of tension, and I hope that we can come away with a much needed three points, helping us to progress in the group. If we can get past Besiktas, who are without a doubt the toughest team in the group, I think coming out on top in the group will prove much easier.
Besiktas are a good side – with good players that compete at the top of the Turkish Super Lig. They are part of 4 teams that compete for the title, Fenerbahce, Champions Last Season, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Trabzonspor, who are all good teams who are consistently in Europe, whether the Champions League or Europa League. For the past 5 seasons, though, Besiktas haven’t been able to finish above 3rd place in the Super Lig, seemingly unable to push on further after every season, with their last title coming in 2009. This season, Besiktas have started well, unbeaten from their first 4 games in the League; 2 wins and 2 draws, sitting in 2nd place behind Akhisar Belediye, who have came out of nowhere after coming 10th last season. In the Europa League, Besiktas drew 1-1 with Asteras Tripolis in game week one away from home, so we’ll take heart from that I’m sure. Last time we faced Besiktas we came out on top in 2006 in the previously named UEFA Cup, a 2-0 victory in Istanbul – Dimitar Berbatov and Hossam Ghaly getting the goals under Martin Jol’s guidance. A similar result in this game at the Lane would be glorious!
The team news for Besiktas is that Mustafa Pektemek is the only doubt for Besiktas with injury, with the rest of the squad fit. The important players for Besiktas starts with midfielder Gokhan Tore, who was the GoalScorer in their game against Tripolis; at just 22 he is a very good player, and can grab the odd goal from midfield. Another midfielder who can make the impact is Olcay Sahan, he’s Besiktas’ top scorer in the League with 3 goals in 4 games and from the wing he’s very threatening. Sahan will be feeding their new striker who is very familiar to English football, Demba Ba, going to Besiktas from Chelsea after having previous spells at Newcastle and West Ham, he’s a very good striker who can produce a finish in the box when you need it; he’s a big player for Besiktas and endeared himself to the fans with a hat-trick in a Champions League qualifier against Feyernoord. We know his threat and it’ll be tricky to contain.
The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, while Danny Rose (knock) and Etienne Capoue (knock) are doubts, and will probably be rested even if they are fit. The team will change, that’s for sure. Ben Davies, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend & Roberto Soldado look to be in line to feature and they need to perform as I’m sure Besiktas will put out a strong team away from home, putting in a strong performance.
For me, it’s important that we are strong in midfield for this game, close Besiktas down early and keep the ball well, and when we have the ball, be effective in attack, with pace and intensity. I expect the midfield duo to be Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli, and we need them to avoid being ponderous otherwise they will be caught out and give pressure to our back line. When they have the ball, they must find the right pass quickly and effectively to more advanced players so they can hopefully create chances and goals. Up front, Roberto Soldado is the likely option to start and after his good goal against Nottingham Forest he has 2 goals in 2 starts so far this season, and hopefully he can continue this against Besiktas, and if he does I think he deserves a chance to start up top in the Premier League against Southampton. In defence, new signing Federico Fazio should start and he has impressed me so far. For what he lacks in pace, he makes up for in intelligence and positioning, with the ability to play the ball out of defence as well. He has a fight on his hands to displace Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen though, who were colossal against Arsenal at the weekend.
A big game is on the horizon! It’s going to be tough, hard fought and hopefully full of exciting football. The game is to be shown live on ITV 4, and I’ll update as much as possible from White Hart Lane. I’m very much looking forward to the game, and I hope we can get the win! Three points and a good win is needed! COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Besiktas at the Lane:
Dier – Fazio – Chiriches – Davies
Stambouli – Bentaleb
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Mauricio Pochettino pre match press conference: