Tottenham Hotspur will hope to continue their winning run alive when they take on Royal Antwerp in their second UEFA Europa League game on Thursday.
Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed a good start to life in the UEFA Europa League when they took on Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub, better known as LASK. An own goal from Andres Andrade, coupled with a goal apiece from Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min helped Spurs register a 3-0 win and gain all three points.
FULL-TIME: Our Europa League campaign kicks off with a win!
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 22, 2020
The same can be said for Royal Antwerp, who finished fourth in the Belgian Pro League last season. They visited Razgrad to take on Ludogorets Razgrad and came back with a win courtesy of Simen Julkerod, who played in seven key passes and created three big chances. Eventually, after going behind early in the first half, Antwerp crawled their way into the game with goals from Peter Gerkens and Lior Rafaelov.
Jose Mourinho will have to consider the game against Brighton & Hove Albion on the weekend before deciding his team for this encounter. The Seagulls have given every team a run for their money with their fluid, attacking football. However, as objectively the strongest side in their group, they must not let complacency set in.
Team News & Tactics
— Royal Antwerp FC (@official_rafc) October 28, 2020
Ivan Leko will go into this game with mixed news in the bag, as Jordan Lukaku and Abdoulaye Seck returned to the training after recovering from Coronavirus, although the former misses out from the matchday squad.
However, it really is a give and take situation, as two of Royal Antwerp’s players have tested positive in the latest round of testing – Dylan Batubinsika and Manuel Benson. Bruny Nsimba is sidelined through injury. Jean Butez will pick up the gloves for the second Europa League game running, being preferred over Alireza Beiranvand, who is a spectacular deputy to the Frenchman.
The defence will feature a triumvirate with Man of the Match from their game against K. Beerschot Ritchie De Laet starting on the right side of the backline. He will partner Jeremy Gelon and Abdoulaye Seck at the heart of the Antwerp defence, as they look to find ways to keep quiet a Tottenham attack firing on all fronts.
There will be no changes in the setup or personnel in midfield, as Pieter Gerkens and Simen Juklerod act as the wing-backs. They will flank the midfield trio of Faris Haroun, Koji Miyoshi and Martin Hongla. Jordan Lukaku, who returns from the sidelines, will have to wait for his start.
There is little to no doubt as to who will occupy the striking roles, with Lior Refarlov and Diemerci Mbokani retaining their place as the twin strikers upfront.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Butez; De Laet, Gelin, Seck; Juklerød, Hongla, Haroun, Miyoshi, Gerkens; Refaelov, Mbokani
Jose Mourinho, much like his counterpart in the Royal Antwerp dugout, will come in with minor injury concerns surrounding the team’s defence. Japhet Tanganga is out with a thigh injury, and Eric Dier will join in on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
Even though he has only two injured players to cater to, Mourinho is expected to make some changes to the lineup keeping the Premier League clash against Brighton in mind. The first of these will come in the shift to the man between the sticks, as Joe Hart will return to the six-yard box after an impressive start to life at Tottenham against LASK.
Matt Doherty started and impressed in the game against Burnley, which could mean a start for Serge Aurier in the right-back position, while Doherty gets to rest for the weekend. On the opposite side, Sergio Reguilon will likely get another 90 minutes in the Europa League. No changes are likely at the heart of the defence, as Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies are expected to start.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is expected to be rested for this encounter, with Moussa Sissoko starting in the double pivot alongside Harry Winks. Giovanni Lo Celso will be the final name in the midfield, playing in a hybrid 8/10 role.
All the limelight will be on Gareth Bale again, who failed to make an impact against LASK last week, but will get the nod in the attack, slotting in on the right. Lucas Moura will take the empty slot on the left, while Carlos Vinicius starts as the central striker, hoping to open his account for Tottenham.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hart; Aurier, Sanchez, Davies, Reguilon; Sissoko, Winks; Bale, Lo Celso, Moura; Vinicius
- This will be the very first game between these sides in European competition. Royal Antwerp have been drawn with English opposition on two previous occasions, both in the UEFA Cup; they beat Aston Villa home and away in 1975/76 but were defeated home and away by Newcastle in 1994/95.
- Spurs have never won away to Belgian opposition (D2 L3), losing on each of their last two visits, both in the UEFA Europa League: against Anderlecht in 2015/16 and KAA Gent in 2016/17.
- Royal Antwerp’s Simen Kristiansen Juklerød created seven chances against Ludogerets, more than any other player managed on Matchday 1 of this season’s UEFA Europa League.
- Spurs have managed just one win from their last eight away games in the UEFA Europa League (D2 L5), defeating FK Qarabag 1-0 in the 2015/16 group stages.
- Including qualifiers, Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is unbeaten in his last 15 matches in the UEFA Europa League (W12 D3), winning all four games this season by an aggregate score of 15-4.
Player to Watch
The fireworks did not take long to follow Gareth Bale, as he rejoined Tottenham Hotspur after being astray in Madrid for seven years. He was not the Premier League’s or even Tottenham Hotspur’s marquee signing, but his arrival carried an emotional context greater than most. However, life in London could not have started slower for the Welsh forward.
He came on in the last 20 minutes against West Ham United to make his debut and immediately lined up a free-kick, which he slammed right into the wall. Following that, he created a brilliant chance for himself making his way through two defenders but putting the ball wide.
Bale was unable to catch the eye against LASK either. It is well-known that Jose Mourinho is a huge fan of the 31-year-old, and the burden will be on his shoulders to get the best out of the returned Welsh superstar.
Royal Antwerp 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
If previous games are any proof, they tell us that both of these sides enjoy playing on quick counters, with little regard for possession. However, there is an evident difference in quality between Tottenham Hotspur and Royal Antwerp. We expect that to play a huge part in this game, and the visitors to take home all possible points from this encounter.