Tottenham will be hoping to keep their UEFA Champions League campaign alive when they welcome PSV Eindhoven to Wembley on Tuesday
Group B of the UEFA Champions League has a couple of interesting matches on offer on Matchday 4. While the marquee fixture on the night will be among two teams vying for top spot of the group, the tie between Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven will be one wherein the winner can stay alive in the competition while the loser will face early elimination.
Tottenham and PSV are currently level on points in Group B, with only goal difference separating the two sides. While both have conceded eight goals, the fact that Spurs have been more prolific means they currently occupy third spot on the standings.
Tottenham are coming into this match on the back of two successive wins in league and cup. But, the Lilywhites have been far from convincing for a while now, especially in the UEFA Champions League, where they have been uncharacteristically suspect at the back.
PSV, on the other hand, have been irresistible in Eredivisie thus far, winning each of their first 11 games of the league campaign, and scoring an astounding 39 goals to take top spot in the process. But, they haven’t managed to translate that form to European football, managing to find the back of the net just thrice – two of those goals came against Tottenham.
The reverse fixture was a pulsating encounter that saw PSV come from behind to hold Tottenham to a 2-2 draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Champions League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mauricio Pochettino has some major problems to deal with ahead of the visit of PSV Eindhoven. On Tuesday, the Tottenham boss will be without as many as five first-team players due to various injuries, while Hugo Lloris is suspended after being sent off in the reverse fixture two weeks ago.
Lloris’ absence means Pochettino will have to call upon either Michel Vorm or Paulo Gazzaniga for a rare UEFA Champions League outing, although the manager also threw Alfie Whiteman’s name in the fray. Gazzaniga though, looks likely to start, having usurped Vorm to become the backup custodian for Spurs.
But, the unavailability of the Tottenham captain is not the only headache that Pochettino is dealing with, as the likes of Jan Vertonghen (hamstring), Danny Rose (groin), Eric Dier (thigh), Mousa Dembele (ankle) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are all on the treatment table.
While there are straightforward replacements for Vertonghen and Rose, the absence of Dier, Dembele and Wanyama could force the Tottenham manager to dig deep into his squad. Harry Winks looks likely to be one of the men who will be deployed in the midfield pivot.
The other spot could go to Moussa Sissoko, whose work-rate and energy could come to good use in the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Serge Aurier could end up replacing Kieran Trippier, who copped flak from Pochettino for a poor performance against Wolves this past weekend.
Up ahead in attack, Pochettino has a pleasing problem of plenty for a change, with Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane the only certain starters. While Dele Alli looks set to be a substitute as he continues on his road to recovery, the other two spots will be a toss-up between Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela, with the Argentine likely to drop down to the bench despite his strong form.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Lucas, Eriksen, Son; Kane
Mark van Bommel has a near full-strength squad at his disposal, with Ryan Thomas the only absentee due to a long-term knee injury that is likely to keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, van Bommel has sworn by a settled starting eleven for much of the league and European ties that his side have played so far, a decision that has certainly reaped dividends for the most part. Jeroen Zoet will be the man between the sticks for the visitors, and will hope to thwart and frustrate Harry Kane.
The back-four has usually comprised of Denzel Dumfries, Daniel Schwaab, Nick Viergever and Angelino. The former Manchester City man, in particular, is a multi-faceted player who will also offer a constant threat in the final third with his marauding runs down the left flank.
Jorrit Hendrix and Pablo Rosario combine to make for a dynamic midfield pivot, with Hendrix providing cover to the backline and latter contributing on both ends of the pitch. Gaston Pereiro is the creative hub for the Dutch outfit, while Luuk De Jong will be hoping to lead from the front.
But, the X-Factor for the visitors will be their wide men, Steve Bergwijn and Hirving Lozano, who make for an electric pairing on the two flanks with their pace and trickery.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angelino; Rosario, Hendrix; Lozano, Pereiro, Bergwijn; De Jong
- Tottenham are winless in five Champions League matches (D2 L3) – their longest ever run without a victory in major European competition.
- PSV have won none of their last 11 Champions League ties (D5 L6) since beating CSKA Moscow 2-1 in December 2015.
- Tottenham boast a strong record at home against sides from Netherlands, losing just one of seven such ties (W3 D3).
- Only Red Star Belgrade (75) have faced more shots in this season’s Champions League than PSV (69), with the Dutch side facing at least 20 in each of their three matches so far.
- PSV Eindhoven have won only once in their last nine away games against Premier League clubs (D3 L5).
Player to Watch
They might just be getting by in the Premier League without performing to their full potential, but Spurs are in the doldrums as far as the UEFA Champions League is concerned. Their hopes of making the Last 16 stage have further been dented by the absence of several key players. On Tuesday, Kane will be the man to lead Tottenham out against PSV.
The English striker has been far from his best so far this season, but has shown signs of returning to form in recent games. Boasting the best goals per game ratio of any player in Champions League history to play at least 10 matches in the competition (0.85 – 11 goals in 13 matches), Kane will need to lead from the front in order to keep Tottenham’s campaign afloat.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 PSV Eindhoven
It has been a tough ride for Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League this season, with several factors playing a role in their struggles. Defence continues to be a concern for Spurs ahead of the Matchday 4 tie against PSV, who stand in good stead to boost their goals tally.
But, the Dutch giants have been far from convincing at the back themselves, and with the likes of Lucas Moura, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane showing some promising form against Wolves this past weekend, there shouldn’t be any shortage of goalmouth action.
The Hard Tackle predicts a keenly contested affair, with both sides needing a win to stay alive in the competition. But, Tottenham should have enough to get past PSV to continue having faint hopes of making the Round of 16.