Match date & time: Thursday 6th November 2014. 6pm GMT KO.
Competition: Europa League Group C.
Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.
TV: Live on ITV4 in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.
Europa League duties await and a trip to Greece to face Asteras Tripolis is the challenge. With three games left in the group, and a difficult trip to Besiktas being the last of those three, it’s important we wrap up qualification as soon as possible, starting with a win in Greece against Asteras, who in the first game at White Hart Lane, we dismantled 5-1. With a win, and a game at home to struggling Partizan next up, qualification to the knockout stages would look very prosperous, with Besiktas and Asteras sure to fight us all the way for those two spaces at the top of Group C. Away to Asteras, it will be no easy task, as we found out when they visited the Lane, they work hard and were not truly represented by the scoreline. An early goal to ease us into the game would be very welcome, and I think if we can hit early, I don’t see Asteras hitting back with the lack of firepower they have.
After the game at White Hart Lane, we know what Asteras Tripolis are capable of. They set their team out well, worked hard and attempted to counter us and get in-behind our back line whenever they could. Their goal came from a Harry Kane goalkeeping mistake, though, and I think up front they struggle to create clear cut opportunities to really hurt the opposition. But, at home, on their own turf, they could be a completely different threat, and try to really take control of the game and peg us back, rather than keeping very solid and compact, allowing us to have the ball but make it difficult to create chances. Following Asteras getting beaten at the Lane, they have played three games winning 2 and drawing another, so their confidence in their own League and Cup hasn’t been effected by our devastating win. Their last game in the Europa League at home, they won 2-0 against Partizan and showed great offensive qualities as well as keeping a clean sheet. It’s going to be more difficult than some may expect, I think.
The team news for Asteras is that Ritchie Kitoko (thigh), Eric Tie Bi (knee), Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) and Ederson (hamstring) are out through injury, while defender Dorin Goian (ankle) is doubtful. The main threat for Asteras stays the same with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 5 goals in 8 games and scored against us last time out, along with Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 3 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 10 games so far this season, bagging 2 goals as well, he can cause defences problems and can play the incisive pass or deliver the dangerous cross. He either plays on the left hand side or as a number 10.
The team news for Tottenham is that many first team players have been left behind in London, those include Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Naughton & Brad Friedel, with Hugo Lloris (suspended), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Kyle Walker (abdominal) forced to sit the game out.
Some players that I would have probably started for this game have been left at home, that includes Aaron Lennon and Nabil Bentaleb, who has been ruled out with an ankle problem. But, there are a lot of players I’m excited to see more of in a Tottenham shirt. Benjamin Stambouli has impressed me a lot in his small time at Spurs so far, he works hard, makes good challenges and has composure on the ball and I think he’s pushing Etienne Capoue very hard for a starting berth in the Premier League after Etienne’s high standards have dropped in recent weeks. Playing Mousa Dembele alongside Stambouli gives the central midfield partnership good balance of attack and defence, and it gives us a good foundation in our Europa League side. With Aaron Lennon being left in London, whether that’s for further recovery for his slight hamstring twinge, or resting for the game against Stoke, it gives Andros Townsend the opportunity with Erik Lamela to man the wings, and give support to what is expected to be an attacking duo of Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane. With an attacking line up like so, we should have no trouble scoring goals, with Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli available from the bench most likely if we need goals and creation. Defensively, it’s a decision for Mauricio Pochettino whether to reinstate Vlad Chiriches into the line up, and line him up with Federico Fazio, or go for the more reliable Jan Vertonghen to partner the big Argentinian. With Hugo Lloris out, Michel Vorm is set to start start his first European game of the season.
It’s a game in which we need three points to put us in a very good space in the group for qualification, and we could do with Partizan getting a result off Besiktas also. Asteras away will be difficult, but we should have enough to get the result we want and get us to the top of the group. The game is televised on ITV4 in the UK, with an early 6pm GMT KO, but you can follow the whole game with me on Twitter, including photos, match updates, videos & more. Follow me here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras Tripolis:
Dier – Fazio – Vertonghen – Davies
Lamela – Stambouli – Dembele – Townsend
Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press prior to the Asteras game: