Alfheim Stadium, Tromsø
28th November, 2013; 18:00 BST
Tottenham Hotspur travel to Norway to face Tromsø Idrettslag in the next Europa League fixture at Alfheim Stadium. The reverse fixture at White Hart Lane ended in a comfortable 3-0 win for the home side as Jermain Defoe scored a wonderful brace.
Tottenham Hotspur have already qualified for the next stage of the contention, while Tromsø are out of competition, but this game provides Spurs with a good opportunity to bounce back from their humiliating defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the league. Moreover, Tottenham would want to secure their place at the top of the group in order to ensure an easier draw in the next round.
Team News and Tactics
This has been a disastrous season so for the Norwegian side. Tromsø have been relegated to second division after finishing just one place above the bottom. The Tippeligaen season ended earlier this month and Tromsø failed to survive the drop after winning just seven of their 30 matches. Their disappointing away form was the prime reason behind this failure as they failed to win a single game on the road. In fact Steinar Nilsen’s side have lost 16 of their last 18 away fixtures in all competitions. Tromsø are coming into this game on the back of a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brann in the last match of the Tippeligaen season, one which confirmed their drop down to the second tier of Norwegian football.
Tromsø have also had a poor Europa League campaign so far and are currently bottom of the Group K points table. They are out of contention for a place in the next round after losing three of their four matches so far. Moreover, Nilsen’s men have scored just one goal in the group stage so far. Lack of firepower upfront has been a big cause for Tromsø’s worry and they can only hope to restore some pride before looking to bounce back from this relegation next season.
Steinar Nilsen has one injury concern ahead of this fixture as Norwegian defender Adnan Causevic is struggling with a groin problem. He is expected to make a lot of changes to the starting line-up he fielded against Brann last weelend. The Tromsø manager will provide opportunities to some of squad players.
Sahlman will replace Benny Lekstrom in goal, while Frantzen, Fojut, Pritchard and Antonsen will feature for the back-four. Hendrik Helmke, who came on as a substitute in against Brann, should start this game in the midfielder alongside Zakari and Johnsen. Drage, Espejord and Nystrom will form the front three. Nilsen used a 4-4-2 formation in the reverse fixture against Tottenham, but he will switch to a 4-3-3 formation as his side was outnumbered in the midfield. Drage and Nystrom will drop back to the wings while defending and will look to form a five-man midfield.
Expected starting line-up: Sahlman (GK); Frantzen, Fojut, Pritchard, Antonsen; Johnsen, Helmke, Zakari; Nystrom, Espejord, Drage
Tottenham started their Premier League campaign brightly after summer of massive upheaval and spending on the squad. But slowly they have fallen off the pace and have won only two of their last seven League games. This has been a disastrous month for Spurs, following their 0-0 draw against Everton, they lost to Newcastle United at home and are coming into this fixture on the back of a shambolic 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City. This poor run of form has seen them drop down to 9th in the league table, and for a side who were expected to challenge for the top four spot, this isn’t good enough. There has been a lot of speculation regarding the future of Andre Villas Boas and he needs to change things sooner rather than later. Tottenham’s lack of goals is Villas Boas’ primary concern at the moment. His side have scored just two goals from open play in their last six league matches.
Tottenham’s form in the Europa League has been in big contrast to their form in the league. In fact they have looked a far more potent side in Europe and have scored goals for fun. Of course, the fact is that the level of defence they were up against isn’t similar to what they face in England. Spurs have won all of their four matches so far and have conceded just one goal in the process. They have already secured their place in the next round and can seal their place at the top of the table with a win in this game.
Andre Villas Boas is still without Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose, while there are some concerns about the fitness of Emmanuel Adebayor as well. Kyle Walker, Hugo Lloris, Paulinho, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Sandro and Younes Kaboul have been rested for this game. Andre Villas Boas is expected make as many as 9 changes to the side he fielded against Manchester City, with only Vertonghen retaining his place in the starting eleven. Friedel will replace Lloris in goal, while Naughton, Chiriches and Fryers comes back in the defence. Dembele will play in the pivot alongside Etienne Capoue, who has regained his fitness. Soldado, who has struggled to score his arrival this season, will lead the attack with Townsend, Sigurdsson and Chadli supporting him in attack.
Expected starting line-up: Friedel (GK); Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen, Fryers; Dembele, Capoue; Townsend, Sigurdsson, Chadli; Soldado
Players to watch-out for: Hendrik Helmke (Tromsø); Jermaine Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)
Prediction: Tromsø 0-2 Tottenham