Tottenham Hotspur seek answers from their players and the UEFA Europa Conference League platform could prove a good distraction from their domestic failings.
Tottenham will take on Slovenian club NS Mura in their next group game of the Europa Conference League. The Premier League side drew with Rennes on Matchday 1 and are eager to make amends and get a grip on things in Group G.
Tottenham come into this clash amid heavy criticism for their performance in the North London Derby against Arsenal. That game showcased many deficiencies that were hidden during their impressive start. Those have been exposed in the last few games.
After starting life under Nuno Espirito Santo brightly, they have tailed off badly in all competitions. Defensive instability and attacking impotence have been their main issues, and the manager would be eager to correct those in this clash against Mura. While a win would be morale-boosting, losing or drawing would hurt them even more.
NS Mura have already made life difficult for themselves after an opening matchday defeat to Vitesse. The Slovenian champions were angling to play in the Europa League, but their failure to qualify placed them in Europe’s third-tier tournament. Owing to Spurs’ form, Mura might sense an opportunity to take advantage of the crisis brewing in north London, although they might find it hard to accomplish.
Mura come into the game with a slight slump in form domestically, managing only two draws in their league. Before that, they won three consecutive games to be well-placed in the Slovenian first division. They will be hoping to cause an upset, but Spurs are a wounded animal at the moment, who might just choose this game to bounce back.
Team News & Tactics
Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon are the only absentees, as Nuno Espirito Santo does not have any new injuries to contend with. With no suspensions either, the manager is likely to field a typical Europa Conference League team, as he has done in the three games in the competition so far.
There certainly will be many alterations from the North London Derby, with Pierluigi Gollini, Joe Rodon, Cristian Romero, Bryan Gil and Oliver Skipp all expected to walk into the lineup.
Nuno might choose to rest Heung-min Son, who has probably been their brightest player this season. Dele Alli could also be dropped in favour of Giovani Lo Celso, while Harry Winks could get an outing in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s midfield spot.
In attack, Harry Kane might retain his place as he tries to find his goalscoring rhythm after enduring a tough start to the season. Gil and Lucas Moura are expected to provide support in attacks from wide areas.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Gollini; Tanganga, Romero, Rodon, Davies; Winks, Skipp, Lo Celso; Lucas, Kane, Gil
Ante Simundza could name a similar lineup from the first matchday against Vitesse. There will be slight changes, though, especially at the back. Centre-half Matic Marusko, who unusually wears the no.9 shirt, is available again after a suspension and could come back into the lineup.
Maruska should replace Zan Karnicnik in defence. Matko Obradovic should be keeping his place between the posts, with a back four to shield him. Klemen Pucko, Marusko, Jan Gorenc and Klemen Sturm are all pencilled in to start in defence.
A midfield five is what the manager likes to field, with Alen Kozar, Tomi Horwat, Ziga Kous, Mitja Lotric and Ziga Skoflek all playing there to support top-scorer and striker Amadej Marosa upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Obradovic; Pucko, Marusko, Gorenc, Sturm; Kozar, Horwat, Kous, Lotric, Skoflek; Marosa
- It will be the first time both teams meet each other.
- Spurs have never lost to a Slovenian opponent, who they have played three times before.
- Spurs have conceded 13 goals in regulation time in their last five games.
- Spurs are winless in their last five games in all competitions under regulation time.
- Mura are winless in their previous three games in all competitions.
Player to Watch
Harry Kane was pencilled in to sit out Conference league games at the start of the campaign to give Spurs more focus in the Premier League. The striker embroiled himself in a summer transfer saga and seemed to have lost form in the process.
Still goalless in the Premier League, the striker thoroughly struggled against Arsenal and is piling pressure on the manager and himself. He needs to find his scoring form soon, or Spurs are getting into more trouble, and this is why he is even considered for playing games in this competition.
Tottenham 2-0 NS Mura
Tottenham are clear favourites to win this clash despite their horrendous form in the build-up to this particular game. Mura will find it difficult to hold their ground against the English opposition. Expect an easy win for Tottenham, who have to ensure they play with a clear head and not let the recent pressure get the better of them. If Spurs make mistakes or show sloppiness, Mura might exploit it, but nothing of that sort is expected at this juncture.