Tottenham Hotspur will be aiming to qualify for the next phase of the UEFA Europa League when they lock horns with Wolfsberger AC in the Round of 32 first leg.
Tottenham Hotspur will take on the Austrian side Wolfsberger AC in the Round of 32 first leg at Puskas Arena on Thursday evening, as the UEFA Europa League knockout stage kicks off this week.
Jose Mourinho’s side qualified for the knockout stage of this edition of UEFA Europa League, as the winners of Group J with 13 points in 6 fixtures. As they are one of the biggest teams remaining in the competition, Spurs must make most of this opportunity to push for the trophy, more so with their top-four chances in the Premier League not looking so bright.
In spite of starting the season on a positive note, the Lilywhites haven’t been consistent in the last couple of months. In their last game against Manchester City in the Premier League, they were battered 3-0 at Etihad Stadium. This certain fixture could play a pivotal role to uplift their morale for the latter stages of their campaign.
On the other hand, Austrian outfit Wolfsberger AC managed to ensure their spot in the Round of 32, as they grabbed the second spot in Group K of the Europa League. Like their opponents, the Austrians have been going through a rugged phase in their own league, although Ferdinand Feldhofer’s side come into the game on the back of a 2-1 win over Flyeralarm Admira.
Thursday’s clash will be the very first time that Spurs will be up against Wolfsberger AC, and ahead of the clash between both sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this UEFA Europa League event.
Team News & Tactics
Wolfsberger AC manager Ferdinand Feldhofer will be heading to this mega event without two significant figures. 32-year-old defensive midfielder Mario Leitgeb will remain absent while Eliel Peretz is also likely to miss out, as he is recovering from a muscle injury.
The Austrian manager will set his team in 4-4-2 formation, as his side need to be organised in a form to cut off any threats from Spurs. Alexander Kofler will stand as the last man of the defence, and in front of the goalkeeper, Dominik Baumgartner and the Georgian international Luka Lochoshvili could form the centre-back pair to bring stability in that region.
Jonathan Scherzer has been going through a decent patch in this campaign, and he will be looking forward to extend his run in the left-back position. On the other flank, Fabian Tauchhammer needs to be wary of the pace and movement of someone like Steven Bergwijn or Son Heung-min.
Sven Sprangler could form the central midfield along with the young Matthaus Taferner, who need to be steady on their task hold the fort in the centre of the field. Austrian midfielder Christopher Wernitznig has to showcase his mobility in both parts of the pitch, as his role will be immensely crucial on the left flank.
On the right side, 35-year-old Michael Liendl ought to start and look to make use of any spaces left in behind by the Spurs full-back. Cheikhou Dieng could slot in as the forward with Serbian international Dejan Joveljic being his partner upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Kofler; Scherzer, Baumgartner, Lochoshvili, Tauchhammer; Wernitznig, Taferner, Sprangler, Liendl; Dieng, Joveljic
Jose Mourinho does have a few injury concerns heading into the clash, as Argentine Giovani Lo Celso is set to miss out on another game due to hamstring injury. Sergio Reguilon still has not recovered from muscle injury and will be unavailable as well.
Jose Mourinho on Sergio Reguilon’s injury:
“No good news. [Sergio] is not coming. No setback, just the process is not going as fast as we initially thought. Let's see. Weekend, next Europa League match, let's see."#COYS #THFC pic.twitter.com/sNoBmzl1M9
— The Spurs Express (@TheSpursExpress) February 17, 2021
Joe Hart could be the starter between the sticks for the Lilywhites, as his experience will be necessary for this away fixture. Colombian centre-back Davinson Sanchez will form the heart of the defence along with Toby Alderweireld.
Ben Davies will be raring to dominate the proceedings from the left-back position, as his role should be pushing the attacking threads through that channel. And on the right side of the defensive unit, Irishman Matt Doherty should get the nod over Serge Aurier.
Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko could build the double pivot structure to strengthen the midfield department. Both players could be decisive in this away game, as they have to establish the stability to command the game in the middle of the park.
Gareth Bale will be pushing for a start in right-wing, as he needs to display his credibility in this affair. Steven Bergwjin should get an opportunity as the left-winger, but the Dutchman needs to be more productive in front of the goal. Lucas Moura will yet again dictate play in the attacking third, as he is likely to play the No. 10 role. Star goalscorer Harry Kane should hold on to his spot as the final figure of the attacking unit.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hart; Doherty, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Bale, Moura, Bergwjin; Kane
- In their last 5 fixtures across all competitions, Wolfsberger AC have managed to win 3 games (L2). As for Tottenham Hotspur, they have just grabbed 1 win (L4), which certainly indicates their rugged form.
- Michael Liendl of Wolfsberger AC has scored 4 goals in this particular competition, and Lucas Moura scored 3 times in the group stage to establish himself as the top scorer for Tottenham.
- This is the first-time ever that Wolfsberger AC have qualified for the knockout stages of a major UEFA competition.
- Spurs had won four of the six group stage affairs, as they finished as the first. Meanwhile, Wolfsberger were able to snatch three wins, as they finished second in the Group K.
- The Lilywhites have failed to grab victory in the first leg in their last seven knockout matches in the UEFA Europa League.
Player to Watch
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 12, 2021
With 21 goals and 14 assists in his 32 outings across all competition, the starlet of The Spurs have been relishing another fascinating season. In his last three games, the Tottenham No. 10 has scored two goals, and in spite of the defeat against Manchester City in the previous affair, Kane will have his tails up heading into the Wolfsberger AC game.
The English forward’s ability to penetrate the final third with scintillating effect could yet again lighten up the event. The 27-year-old needs to showcase his ability to score and create on Thursday, as his involvement will be vital for Tottenham to dominate the proceedings from the first whistle and get their season back on course.
Wolfsberger AC 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur will be heading to this fixture with positive intent, as they would fancy this tie to regain momentum in this campaign. Although, any knockout game does possess the potential of throwing up a surprise at any moment, and by looking at Tottenham’s recent run of results, anyone won’t be able to neglect the possibility.
However, Wolfsberger AC have a daunting task to pull off, as, despite their recent failings, there is no denying the quality that this Tottenham outfit. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting the first leg of this Round of 32 stage encounter to end in a 2-0 win for Jose Mourinho & co.