Tottenham make the long trip to Slovenia to take on NS Mura, as Antonio Conte eyes continuity and possibly a win to cement their spot in the next round.
NS Mura are certainly out of the running to qualify for the next phase of the UEFA Europa Conference League, having secured no points so far in their four games. They now face a tough test from a visiting Tottenham side who are eager to stamp their authority on the group.
In a group with Spurs, Rennes and Vitesse Arnhem, the home side realistically did not have a chance of progression right from Day 1. Ante Simundza’s side are also in a dreadful run of form, with only one win in their last six games across competitions. This past weekend, they could only manage a 1-1 draw with NK Domzale, which might not do much for their confidence before hosting Spurs.
Meanwhile, Antonio Conte has managed to revitalise the Tottenham squad to some extent and will hope the players are in a good headspace after a solid victory over Leeds United at home. It was also the first win in the Premier League since the Italian took over.
Conte’s first match was in this competition with a tricky visit from Vitesse Arnhem. The game could be described as chaotic at best, considering the three red cards, although Spurs managed to secure a hard-fought victory in the end. The result took them into second place in the group, and Conte now aims to win and set the record straight.
Against their hosts, Tottenham recorded an emphatic 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture, blowing Mura out of the park. Harry Kane got a morale-boosting hat-trick in that game, and Conte will be hoping for a similar performance again from his side.
Team News & Tactics
Ante Simundza does not have too many problems with injuries in his squad. The NS Mura manager is likely to stick with a more defensive formation with captain Ziga Kous leading the backline with his experience.
A back five is expected to take shape, with Marin Karamarko, Matic Marusko, Zan Karnicnik and Klemen Sturm ready to take their position with Kous.
A midfield four of Klemen Pucko, Nik Lorbek, Tomi Horvat and Mitja Lotric will keep their places. The manager might have to contend with these names on the pitch as he may not have enough quality options to call from the bench if needed.
Upfront, Simundza will have to decide on his starting striker. Nardin Mulahusejnovic has played most games leading the line for Mura. However, Amadej Marosa, who scored in their league draw with Domzale at the weekend, has a fair chance of displacing the regular frontman.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Obradovic; Kous, Karamarko, Marusko, Karnicnik, Sturm; Pucko, Lorbek, Horvat, Lotric; Marosa
Antonio Conte could use this game to employ many of his fringe stars and experiment with his squad. Many of those who are yet to properly feature under the Tottenham boss could get an opportunity, with Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon expected to operate as wing-backs.
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Sessegnon specifically will be focused upon. Many believe Conte is the ideal manager to get the best out of him, with the wide man enduring a difficult period at Spurs since joining from Fulham a few years ago.
There are few injuries to deal with, and Conte will have to make do without Argentine pair Giovani Lo Celso, who is yet to prove his fitness, and Cristian Romero, who is sidelined with a hamstring problem. Even if the defender had been fit, he would have been suspended from this tie anyway.
A much-changed back three along with Pierluigi Gollini in goal could be one of the likeliest scenarios. Japhet Tanganga could be restored in the side, while Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon might come in the back three. Doherty and Sessegnon are well placed to play as attacking wing-backs, replacing Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon.
Oliver Skipp, who missed the weekend action through suspension, could return to the lineup in central midfield and partner Tanguy Ndombele. They will replace Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks. Meanwhile, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura could be rested as Conte might experiment with the front line a bit.
Harry Kane might keep his place to build a goalscoring momentum he desperately needs. Steven Bergwijn, who recently returned from injury, might get the nod on the right-hand side, while Spanish youngster Bryan Gil might be deployed on the left.
Probable lineup (3-4-3): Gollini; Tanganga, Sanchez, Rodon; Doherty, Skipp, Ndombele, Sessegnon; Bergwijn, Kane, Gil
- Tottenham are unbeaten in all competitions since Antonio Conte took over as their manager.
- Harry Kane has three goals in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season; all coming against NS Mura in the previous fixture.
- Mura have claimed just a single win in eleven games across all competitions.
- Mura, along with FC Alashkert and Lincoln Red Imps, are without a point after four games in the Europa Conference League.
- Mura have conceded ten goals while managing to only score twice in the competition this season.
Player to Watch
Sessegnon is a player who has been on the fringes since he joined Tottenham in the summer of 2019 while being blighted by injury problems and form. He did fairly well at Hoffenheim last season, and now he might have the best possible system to showcase his skills with Antonio Conte in charge.
Sessegnon is known for his attacking style, which is ideally what Conte likes. The Italian could develop him into a lethal force, and we could see a glimpse of it against Mura when the English youngster is likely to play on the left-hand side. This is a platform for the wing-back to shine and give his manager a different option this season.
Tottenham 4-0 NS Mura
Spurs showed their clinical side by dominating NS Mura at home in the reverse fixtures and put five goals past their defence. This time around, Tottenham can score more, although with Antonio Conte set to include more fringe stars, they might get at least four goals for their cause.
Barring a surprise upturn in form for Mura, the home side are expected to lose this clash heavily and find themselves without point after Matchday 5. Tottenham will keep pressure on Rennes at the top of the group with a convincing win on their travel to Slovenia.