White Hart Lane, London
19:05 GMT, 19th September 2013
Tottenham Hotspur host Norwegian side Tromsø in the first match of their Europa League’s group stages this season. Spurs, who were knocked out at the hands of Basel in the Quarter final last season, should consider this tournament as a great opportunity to win silverware. Andre Villas Boas, who won this tournament with Porto at the start of his managerial career, knows that Tottenham will be considered as one of the favourites after investing so much in the squad this summer.
Spurs have made a bright start to their domestic league campaign and have won all of their matches, expect for a disappointing defeat at the hands of Arsenal. But they bounced back brilliantly from that loss with a good display in the 2-0 victory over Norwich in their last game. New signing Christian Eriksen made an immediate impact on his debut and it seems he will be a regular fixture in the starting line-up.
Andre Villas Boas has expressed his concern regarding the player’s fitness ahead of this fixture. He has also voiced his disappointment about his team having to play two match in a space of two days in the Premier League after this Europa League fixture:
“After this (Europa League) game, we have not only the Sunday game but the Tuesday game, which I found as an incredible surprise. How can a game be scheduled after two days, immediately putting the players’ careers at risk with injuries? I find it absolutely incredible that we have to risk injuries to our players in a game that they play on that Tuesday. The problem is that it puts the players in a very difficult situation. It’s also nothing new in English football. I had the same thing once with Wolverhampton and Chelsea, when I was at Chelsea, and I spoke the same way. The second day of recovery is the most dangerous day for a player to pick up an injury.” – Andre Villas Boas
The Portuguese manager is expected to make a lot of changes to the starting line-up ahead of this match against Tromsø. Jermaine Defoe, who dropped down the pecking order after the arrival of Roberto Soldado, is expected to start in this game. Lamela, Holtby and Eriksen will start behind Defoe as Sigurdsson and Townsend are rested. Sandro will partner Dembele in the pivot as Paulinho drops back to the bench. New signing Vlad Chiriches is set to make his debut in this game after getting his work permit in England. He will start alongside Younes Kaboul in defence. Kyle Naughton is also likely to start as the right back in place of Walker. Brad Friedel will return in goal, replacing Hugo Lloris. Nacer Chadli, Aaron Lennon and Capoue remain on the side line with injuries.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Friedel (GK); Rose, Kaboul, Chiriches, Naughton; Sandro, Dembele; Holtby, Eriksen, Lamela; Defoe
Tromsø qualified for the group stages despite being defeated by Besiktas, as the Turkish side were disqualified from the competition for their involvement in a match fixing scandal. The Norwegian side are having a poor season domestically and are currently lying in the 13th spot in the league table – tied with IK Start at 25 points, who occupy the relegation play-off spot. With seven matches to go in the League, Tromsø have a lot more to worry about than their upcoming Europa League clash against Tottenham. In fact, looking at their squad’s fitness and the important clashes up ahead, this fixture couldn’t have arrived at a more inappropriate time.
However, they are coming into this fixture on the back of a superb victory over league leaders Rosenborg, which ended their nine match win-less streak in the league. Manager Agnar Christensen is expected to rotate the squad ahead of this game as safety in the league remains his priority. He will be without defender Hans Norybe, who suffered from a broken nose in their last game. Magnus Andersen is unlikely to recover from his ankle injury, but Ruben Kristiansen and Jaroslaw Fojut are likely to play some part in this game.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Sahlman (GK); Fojut, Koppinen, Causevic, Ciss; Bendiksen, Drage, Pritchard, Johansen; Moldskred, Ondrasek
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Tromsø
Players to watch out for: Erik Lamela (Tottenham); Zdenek Ondrasek (Tromsø)