Sheriff Stadium, Tiraspol
24 October, 18:00 BST
Tottenham Hotspur travels to Moldova to face FC Sheriff Tiraspol in their next Europa League group stage fixture. This is the first meeting between these two sides and one that provides the perfect opportunity for Spurs to virtually confirm their place in the next round. Tottenham already have a four points lead over Sheriff in the points table, having won their opening two matches.
Sheriff have made a fantastic start to their league campaign and are currently leading the points table in National Division with a four points lead of second placed Veris. The Moldavian club are unbeaten in their last four games, with their last defeat coming in the match against Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League qualification round.
Sheriff have drawn their opening to matches in their Europa League campaign so far. They drew their opening game against Anzhi Makhachkala with both sides failing to score, while in their last game they put up a spirited show against Tromsø to grab a draw. Sheriff went behind in that game to goal from Zdenek Ondrasek in the second half. The away side then went down to 10-men immediately after conceding that goal as Melli was given his marching orders. But 10-men Sheriff fought back hard and grabbed a late equaliser through Ricardo Cavalcante. It was a crucial point, one which has put them in a favourable position to qualify along with Tottenham from this group.
Manager Veaceslav Rusnac is expected to make only one change to the starting line-up he fielded against Tromsø. Melli, who was dismissed in that game, will serve his suspension in this match and will be replaced by William Celestino at the back. Rusnac has used a 4-1-4-1 formation so far in this tournament with Moyal sitting in front of the defence to protect them. 24-year-old Ricardo Cavalcante, who has scored Sheriff’s only goal in this tournament so far, will be the home side’s main threat in attack.
Expected starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Tomic (GK); Paye, Celestino, Samardzic, Metoua; Moyal; Luvannor, Cadu, Cavalcante, Balima; Isa
A lot of expected of Tottenham this season after their busy summer in the transfer market and they made a good start to their domestic campaign and despite a stumble against West Ham at home, they are currently 5th in the league table and just three points behind the league leaders. Spurs have lost just two of their last fourteen matches in all competitions.
Tottenham have made a flying start to their European campaign as well and are right considered as one of the favourites for this tournament. Tottenham have won their opening two matches against Tromsø and Anzhi, and are yet to concede a goal. In their last match, Tottenham made light work of Russian side Anzhi, away from home, as Jermaine Defoe and Nacer Chadli scored in the first half. With every other team dropping points in this group so far, Spurs already have a massive lead at the top.
Andre Villas Boas doesn’t have too many injury concerns ahead of this game as the likes of Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli have all returned to first team action. Etienne Capoue remains at the side lines though, while Adebayor lacks match fitness. There are also some doubts about the fitness of Younes Kaboul, but he is likely to start at the back.
Villas Boas will continue to rotate his squad in the Europa League and is expected to make eight changes to the starting eleven that was used against Aston Villa last weekend. Kyle Naughton and Ezekiel Fryers and Younes Kaboul will replace Walker, Dawson and Vertonghen at the back respectively. Chiriches will retain his place in the side after making his debut against Villa. In the midfield Paulinho will be replaced by Dembele, who started from the bench in their last match. Erik Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli will form attack behind Defoe as the likes of Soldado and Townsend are rested.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris (GK); Naughton, Chiriches, Kaboul, Fryers; Dembele, Sandro; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Defoe
Players to watch out for: Ricardo Cavalcante (Sheriff); Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Prediction: Sheriff Tiraspol 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur