In their final match of Group H, group winners Tottenham Hotspur host Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia at Wembley.
Having secured top spot in the group thanks to their superior head-to-head record against Real Madrid, this match is but a mere formality for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. While APOEL have no chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds, they can still qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
The visitors are level on points with Borussia Dortmund, who also have two points after five games. Should the Bundesliga side lose to Real Madrid tonight, a draw will be enough for APOEL to secure a place in the Europa League. If they draw, nothing less than a victory will do, as the Germans have a better goal difference.
Tactics & Team News
Mauricio Pochettino will only be without the services of Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and Victor Wanyama (knee), both of whom are recovering from long-term injuries. Besides that, he might choose to rest a few players and give some fringe players a chance, having already won the group and secured qualification.
Hugo Lloris is likely to start in goal, but Michel Vorm could get an opportunity to start. Serge Aurier will likely come into the squad at right-back, with Eric Dier, Ben Davies and Davison Sanchez making up the rest of the defence.
Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks could line up in midfield as the double pivot. Son Heung-min is expected to start on the left flank, with Moussa Sissoko playing on the right and Dele Alli in between them. Harry Kane is expected to lead the line.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Winks, Dembele; Sissoko, Alli, Son; Kane
Georgios Donis is expected to make a number of changes to the side that started against Ermis Aradippou. Nauzet Perez is likely to start in goal, with Roberto Lago and Jesus Rueda coming into defence to join Giorgios Merkis and Praxitelis Vouros.
Vinicius and Nuno Morais are expected to come into midfield, with Lorenzo Ebecilio and Ghayas Zahid, being joined by Efstathios Aloneftis on the left wing. Tommy Oar and Minas Antoniou could make way, and Igor De Camargo will likely lead the line as a lone striker.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Perez; Vouros, Merkis, Rueda, Lago; Morais, Vinicius; Zahid, Ebecilio, Aloneftis; de Camargo
- APOEL Nicosia are aiming to become the first side from Cyprus to beat a team from England in the Champions League, with previous record of clubs from the country reading D3 L11 against English opposition.
- In five matches against Cypriot opposition, Tottenham Hotspur have scored 15 and conceded only 3 goals in European competition.
- APOEL Nicosia have failed to win their last 13 Champions League games, drawing three and losing ten.
- Tottenham Hotspur are yet to be beaten in the Group Stage of the Champions League this season, winning 4 and drawing 1 of their games.
- Tottenham’s Harry Kane has scored 8 goals and assisted 2, in only 8 UEFA Champions League games.
Player To Watch
Tottenham Hotspur: Dele Alli
The Englishman is one key player who isn’t expected to be rested tonight, given that he’s been available for only two Champions League games so far this season. He has 2 goals and 2 assists to his name in only a couple of appearances in Europe, and he could be eyeing this game as a way to return to form, following a recent dry run.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 APOEL Nicosia
Tottenham have already qualified for the knockout rounds as the winners of Group H, but APOEL absolutely need a victory or draw tonight if they wish to stand a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. However, despite their poor form, Tottenham should have no trouble cruising to victory.
As mentioned earlier, Pochettino may choose to rest a few big names but that would hardly be an excuse to not win, given the gulf of quality between the two sides. They need to start winning games to build up some momentum, and Pochettino knows this is the perfect opportunity to do so.