Match Preview, Tottenham vs AEL Limassol. (2nd leg)

Match date & time: Thursday 28th August 2014. 7:45pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League play-off second leg.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV4.

1st leg result: Limassol 1-2 Tottenham.

Tottenham’s place in the Europa League group stages is one hurdle away, a 2nd leg fixture against Limassol at the Lane after we were victorious with a 2-1 win away from home last week. We know after the first game that Limassol are no push overs, & do pose a threat – probably more so than we anticipated, but with two away goals to our name, and the form we’ve shown at the start of this season, it seems as though we should breeze through to the Europa League group stages, but you can never know and the players need to be ready to finish the game off, most preferably early on in the game to give us some real comfort. Hopefully, we can score a few goals and put in a good performance for the home faithful, which always insights confidence into the players and the fans ahead of a big game against Liverpool on Sunday.

AEL Limassol have some good players, but their top player for me is Sardinero, who scored their goal and showed that he is a very lively striker, who has ability to finish off chances. Lima da Silva is another player who is a threat for AEL, he’s quick and skilful in midfield and holds the spark for the Cypriot side. Sardinero and da Silva are the players I’m sure we’ll be looking to contain. Limassol don’t have any injury concerns coming into the game, so are looking fresh and I’m sure they’ll be looking to cause an upset! Although they have a couple of decent players, I’m sure we’ll have enough to see them off, even if we put out a weakened side to play the Cypriot champions. At Home is where Limassol are threatening, so if we can get past them there, we should be able to finish them off at White Hart Lane.

The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, with Roberto Soldado (neck/back) also out. Michel Vorm, who is under a special fitness programme, isn’t registered for the game along with newest signing Federico Fazio. The good news is that after a back injury, Vlad Chiriches is fit to return to the squad and hopefully he can get some minutes after missing the pre-season fixtures, to get back to full fitness; if he can perform as he did at times last season, he could be an important player for us this season. Paulinho and Andros Townsend, who were left out of the squad to face QPR at the weekend are also expected to return to the 18 man squad.

With Roberto Soldado out with an injury, and Emmanuel Adebayor expected to be rested, Harry Kane looks to have an opportunity to play the lone striker role. Hopefully he can continue to perform well and score a few goals; he can be an important player this season, from the bench and in the cup competitions especially. He can be the one to provide the goals in this game, as he did in the first leg getting the winner for us. I think ahead of a big game at White Hart Lane against Liverpool in the Premier League and with a 2-1 win already in the bag from the first leg, a ‘weakened’ team will be put out, even though with the strong squad we have, we don’t really have a ‘weak’ team, which holds us in good stead for the season ahead. Players like Andros Townsend, Lewis Holtby, Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches have good opportunities to show what they can do; to the fans and to Mauricio Pochettino. All squad competition is good competition and I always like to see players given a chance in games like these, & possibly the inclusion of some young players too, such as Milos Veljkovic.

Looking forward to the game! Important to get off to a good start, and finish off the tie early. Let’s make it an easy game, not a tense one, eh Spurs? The game is live on ITV4, and you can also follow updates on my twitter account @AddictedToSpurs, including photos, videos and more. Let’s get to the group stages! COYS!!

My predicted team to face AEL Limassol at the Lane:
Naughton – Chiriches – Veljkovic – Davies
Dembele – Sandro
Lennon – Holtby – Townsend

Mauricio Pochettino press conference pre Limassol:

Match Preview, AEL Limassol vs Tottenham. (1st leg)

Match date & time: Thursday 21st August 2014. 5pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League – play-off stage.

Venue: Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus.

TV: Not televised in the UK.

The Europa League has come back round the corner. Last season, we made the round of 16 before meeting our match in Benfica. This season, our aim as it was last season is to win the competition, but it will be very difficult. It starts here, in the play-off round to enter the group stages. We had to get through this last year, facing Dinamo Tblisli and we got through the game with ease, and now we’ll be hoping to breeze past AEL Limassol in similar fashion. We should be taking this competition seriously, because, as Pochettino has said, it gives us another chance to secure Champions League. Even if that chance is slim, difficult and even more unrealistic than getting top 4, it’s a chance and given a good draw and luck goes our way, who knows; we have the squad to do well, that is for sure.

AEL Limassol were champions of the Cypriot division 1 in the 2013/14 season, winning 19, drawing 5 and losing just 2. This got them into the Champions League third qualifying round, where they met a strong Zenit St. Petersburg side, managed by our former head coach Andre Villas Boas. In the first leg, at home, they beat AVB’s side 1-0, a massive win for their club and City, but in the second leg away from home they couldn’t finish the job as Zenit ran away 3-0 victors. This should show us that this could be a really tough test that if we underestimate them, we could get stung by an obviously ‘plucky’ AEL Limassol team who will no doubt be pumped up for the game.

The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue, Younes Kaboul, Michel Vorm and Etienne Capoue have been left in London for the first leg, while Vlad Chiriches (back) and Kyle Walker (pelvis) are still suffering from their injuries. Good news is that Jan Vertonghen, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele are back in contention for the game after returning from the World Cup, so we’re hoping that they get a run out and then be ready for the game against QPR in the Premier League on Sunday after missing the West Ham game. Youngsters Milos Veljkovic and Luke McGee (GK) have also traveled with the squad along with Tom Carroll. It’s a very strong squad and we’ll be looking to take a strong lead into the second leg at White Hart Lane, but if we slip up, we will still be confident of breezing past them at the Lane into the group stages.

It’s important that our World Cup players get minutes, and I’m specifically looking forward to seeing Jan Vertonghen return to the field after an impressive World Cup display. He has the talent, after a disappointing 2013/14 season, to become our key defender and really take this season by storm as he did in his 2012/13 debut season, when he made the Premier League team of the year, it’s key that he regains that form as we will rely on him this season. Three players returning from the World Cup Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli have a lot to prove this season, but I do believe they have the quality to show why we bought them in the first place, especially Mousa Dembele who I think has incredible ability, but he needs to find form and fitness again and come back with the form he had in his first season and in his Fulham days, this starts against AEL Limassol. Lewis Holtby is another I think is important for the game, he can provide the spark along with Erik Lamela in the absence of Christian Eriksen, with Harry Kane providing goals without Emmanuel Adebayor present.

We’ve got a tough game on our hands, with what is expected to be a hostile atmosphere and a dodgy pitch. We have to be professional, as always, and look to get a good result to bring back to North London. The game isn’t televised in the UK but I’m sure a stream will become available. Make sure to follow my twitter account @AddictedToSpurs for match & goal updates, photos and videos for the game. COYS!!

My predicted team to face AEL Limassol in Larnaca:
Naughton – Dier – Vertonghen – Davies
Paulinho – Carroll
Townsend – Holtby – Chadli

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference: