Tottenham Hotspur will have the chance to make a memorable return to the UEFA Champions League when they host Marseille on Wednesday.
After a gap of two years, Tottenham Hotspur finally qualified for the prestigious tournament, and an entertaining encounter with Marseille should be on cards when the two clubs begin their respective UEFA Champions League campaigns on Wednesday.
Tottenham’s brilliant start to the current Premier League season should work as a catalyst in their Champions League journey this season. Having been drawn with Sporting CP and Eintracht Frankfurt, they definitely have the edge over their opponents due to their superior squad depth.
Marseille have started to spice things up in Ligue 1 with their brilliant gameplay, and they are yet to taste a defeat in the French top tier this term. They warmed up for this huge game in style with an extraordinary display against Auxerre, and only an inferior goal difference is preventing them from taking the top spot from Paris Saint-Germain .
Tottenham made it to the final only to see themselves get humiliated against a spirited Liverpool side in 2019 final, the last time they appeared in the Champions League. Antonio Conte would definitely want to recapture that form. But this time, he would be happy to be on the winner’s podium.
Marseille made some smart investments in the transfer market as they roped in the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Guendouzi, and Eric Bailly. And the results have been pretty fascinating so far as their free flowing football is winning hearts this time.
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Antonio Conte made a string of changes to the starting lineup in Tottenham’s win over Fulham, and he is expected to shuffle his pack again. With a match against Manchester City looming on the horizon, Conte would be very happy to get some of his best players back at his disposal.
Both Cristian Romero and Rodrigo Bentancur gave a good account of themselves following a return to the starting eleven, and the duo will likely keep their places in the team against Marseille.
Except for Lucas Moura and Bryan Gil, the Tottenham manager will have a vast player pool to choose from. Hugo Lloris will not be dislodged from the goalkeeping slot, while Romero, Clement Lenglet and Eric Dier will have the task to thwart any kind of attack from the Marseille attackers.
It took very little time for Ivan Perisic to acclimatise to the toughness of the Premier League, and the Croatian international will start as the left wing-back. Emerson Royal had some nervy moments in the last match, and he needs to deal with that if a situation arises.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been the go-to man for Conte in the midfield, and he will be paired with Bentancur in the middle of the pitch. Richarlison performed excellently in his first Tottenham start, and Dejan Kulusevski might have to sit out again as the Brazilian is gunning for a start.
Son Heung-min has not been at his best, and the goal drought could pose a real threat. The South Korean forward will have another chance to add a much needed goal to his tally. Finally, Harry Kane is the tailor-made choice for the number nine role at Tottenham.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Lloris; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Perisic; Richarlison, Kane, Son
Surprisingly, Marseille have not registered Bamba Dieng and Cedric Bakambu for the UEFA Champions League, and their fate can be sealed in the upcoming January transfer window.
Former West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet will not be able to revisit his Premier League days due to an injury, while Alexis Sanchez is suspended. Samuel Gigot is also in the treatment room, but Igor Tudor should not be worried as he has plenty of options under his sleeve.
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Pau Lopez will be in the goal, while Chancel Mbemba, Sead Kolasinac and Leonardo Balerdi will rearguard the Marseille goal. Nuno Tavares has been a revelation since his arrival on loan from Arsenal, and he will make his way into the starting lineup. Tavares, alongside Jonathan Clauss, will have the responsibility to marshall the flanks.
Jordan Veretout and Valentin Rongier need to be steady in the midfield, as Tottenham have enough resources to inflict damage. Matteo Guendouzi will feature in a more advanced role, and he will have the help of Gerson as the two will try to bypass the Tottenham defensive line to feed balls to Luis Suarez who will spearhead the Marseille attack against Tottenham.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Lopez; Mbemba, Balerdi, Kolasinac; Clauss, Veretout, Rongier, Tavares; Gerson, Guendouzi; Suarez
- Marseille’s record against English opponents is very poor as they have lodged a single win in their last 13 matches, with their only victory coming against Chelsea back in 2010.
- Wednesday’s clash will be Tottenham’s first meeting with Marseille in any kind of a competitive fixture. They have registered four victories in five home matches against French opponents so far in all European competitions.
- Marseille have lost 12 matches in the UEFA Champions League against English teams, twice as many as their number of defeats to any other nation’s teams. (Italy – 6)
- Tottenham have won 44 per cent of their matches in the UEFA Champions League (20/45), the lowest ratio of any English team with 20+ games played in the competition. In fact, 16 of those 20 wins have been recorded by a non-English manager in charge of the Lilywhites (Mauricio Pochettino x15, Jose Mourinho x1).
- Harry Kane has been directly involved in 23 goals in his 24 appearances in the UEFA Champions League (20 goals, 3 assists). Of all players to score 20+ goals in the Champions League, only Erling Haaland (64), Mario Gomez (102) and Lionel Messi (103.7) have a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Kane (104.4).
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Harry Kane became the third-highest scorer in the Premier League this past weekend, and his record in the UEFA Champions League speaks for himself. He excelled under former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and has netted 20 goals in 24 games so far.
Antonio Conte would be placing his bets on the England captain, who is adamant to win at least a major trophy during his stint with the North London club. Kane should be in his element after a strong start to the season, and he might be in business against Marseille.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Marseille
We could be in for a goal-fest as both sides are known for their ultra-attacking approach. Marseille’s backline is in for some heavy attacking waves from Harry Kane and co. And it remains to be seen how they deal with the pressure. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard-fought 3-2 win for Tottenham.