Nabil Bentaleb, Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton are the only names definitely ruled out of tonight’s Europa League tie with Asteras but we can expect several first team choices to be rested in what should be a comfortable night – in theory at least. In addition to the long term absentees at right back, Bentaleb’s is a new injury – an ankle complaint picked up on international duty with Algeria.
“Nabil is injured and we hope he recovers as soon as possible,” said head coach Mauricio Pochettino after Wednesday training.
Tottenham are the clear favourites with Betfair to take the three points and after two draws, a win is essential in order to keep qualification on course. Our opponents tonight are also unbeaten, but a victory over Partizan puts them on top of the group with four points so for anyone who wants us to progress in this competition, anything less than a win this evening could make it very difficult to move forward to the next phase.
Questions start right at the back where the coach has entrusted Hugo LLoris in this group so far. Michel Vorm waits patiently but will Pochettino continue to risk the Frenchman or will the former Swansea man take over ahead of an important Premier League weekend?
Eric Dier and Ben Davies will presumably cover the full back slots but there are more issues at the heart of defence where Jan Vertonghen was dropped in favour of Federico Fazio for the Manchester City game. The Belgian will presumably now step straight back in to face Newcastle so could we expect to see Fazio and Chiriches line up by default?
Midfield raises more questions but with so many available players in the centre of the park, there are plenty of options. Andros Townsend, Paulinho, Benji Stambouli and even forgotten man Aaron Lennon are among those challenging for a starting place this evening.
Up front against a team who many believed would be the weakest in the group, the coach will surely select two strikers with Harry Kane expected to be the first name on the list. That leaves Maurico to pick between Soldado and Adebayor – assuming the latter is fit.
Asteras qualified for the Europa League via the Greek Superleague –a competition that they have yet to win, although they have been strong in the lower divisions prior to gaining promotion some eight years ago.
This is the furthest they have come in Europe but that opening, unbeaten record shows that tonight’s match is anything but a formality.
Asteras is a very good, young team. They won their game against Partizan and drew against Besiktas. They are a good team, very focused,” Pochettino is quoted by Spurs TV.
“They have a very good philosophy on the pitch and have a lot of Argentine players. They have a very good side. It will be a very important game.”
Of those Argentinians, Jerónimo Barrales is the man in form after three goals in five domestic league games while his compatriots Pablo Mazza and Facundo Parra are also likely to be a threat up front.
Clearly this is no walkover but Spurs are expected to win, with no excuses for dropping points this time around. In the meantime, here is our tip in terms of the starting XI – feel free to add your thoughts on this and let us know what you expect to see from tonight’s game.