APOEL Nicosia host Tottenham at the GSP Stadium, for what will be the first ever meeting between the two sides in the UEFA Champions League.
Tottenham go into this tie looking to win the first two opening Champions League ties for the first time ever, albeit with a squad ravaged by injuries and suspensions. They are yet to drop points away from home this season and have lost only 1 of their games thus far.
They will be looking to build upon their fantastic win against tournament heavyweights Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 1 and are coming off a confidence boosting victory against cross town rivals West Ham United. APOEL on the other hand, will be looking for their first group stage victory this term.
Real Madrid made light work of them in their first match, putting 3 past them with no reply. They are yet to win in any competition since that defeat and will desperately be looking to get back to winning away and will likely see an injury ridden Spurs as the perfect opponents to help them get their season back on track.
Team News & Tactics
Giorgos Donis will be without the services of right-back Zhirkov Milanov, attacking midfielder Lorenzo Ebecilio and right winger Georgios Efrem due to to injury. Besides the aforementioned trio, the APOEL boss has no other injuries or suspensions going into this tie.
Donis will likely stick to their regular 4-2-3-1 formation on Tuesday. Rolland Salai and Ghayas Zahid will likely come in at attacking midfield and right wing, while Minas Antoniou and Andreas Markis are also players Donis could use on the wings if needed.
Igor de Camargo is expected to lead the line for the Thrylos. However, Mickael Pote’s inclusion in the starting XI could see the switch to a 4-4-2. However, it seems unlikely that Donis would go for that formation from the very beginning.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Waterman; Vouros, Rueda, Carlao, Lago; Vinicius, Morais; Zahid, Salai, Aloneftis; de Camargo
Mauricio Pochettino will be missing a number of players going into this tie. Left-back Danny Rose (knee), midfielders Mousa Dembele (ankle), Victor Wanyama (knee) and Erik Lamela (hip) are all injured, while Christian Eriksen recently took ill and isn’t available for selection in Nicosia tonight.
Dele Alli and Jan Vertonghen will be serving suspensions, so neither of them will feature in Spurs’ squad tonight. As a result, a lot of second string players will take to the field and Pochettino also has a formation dilemma, which could force him to settle for the 4-4-2 formation.
A three-man defence seems unlikely as Eric Dier will have to be used in midfield, given the lack of personnel. Heung-min Son will likely come into the starting XI at left wing with Moussa Sissoko on the right. Harry Winks and Eric Dier will likely make up Spurs’ central midfield pairing on the night.
Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente are both expected to start upfront for Pochettino’s side and it would be interesting to see how the duo play together. Kane would likely drop deeper and the Spaniard would act as more of a target man, with crosses coming in from the flanks.
Predicted Starting XI (4-4-2): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Sissoko, Dier, Winks, Son; Llorente, Kane
- APOEL have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their nine Champions League group stage ties at home.
- Tottenham have never lost against Cypriot opposition in European competition, winning 3 ties and drawing 1.
- APOEL have lost 10 of their last 12 Champions League matches, winning and drawing 1 game each.
- This is the first time that Tottenham have reached the group stage of the Champions League for back-to-back seasons.
- In a mere 4 Champions League appearances, Harry Kane has scored 4 goals and registered 1 assist.
APOEL Nicosia 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Given Spurs’ injury woes, it is difficult to see them put in the kind of performance that got them a resounding victory against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley a fortnight ago. The hosts have lost only once at the GSP Stadium this season and they will be a formidable side at home.
Mauricio Pochettino has stated that his long injury list of players is not an excuse to not win, but given the sheer number of first-team players missing from the starting XI, it would certainly hold up. Upon that, APOEL will have the added pressure of winning their first Champions League match of the season in front of their home fans.
However, Spurs do have the likes of Kane, Llorente and Son who can help them win matches and are yet to drop points away from home in any competition so far this term. Despite their inexperience, the visitors should be able to come away with a hard fought, narrow victory.