The Europa League is back! Excited? Why not!
Yes it is the return of Europe’s secondary elite contest. Tottenham travel to the great nation of Georgia to face opposition whom are no strangers to our North London boys. Dinamo Tbilisi stand in our way if we hope to qualify for the Group stages of the competition.
Our last venture in the Europa League ended sadly with a penalty defeat however the last European campaign gave some Spurs fans memories they will forever cherish. Mousa Dembele’s last gasp strike to put us through, Gareth Bale’s double freekicks against Lyon, Emmanuel Adebayor sliding home to impossibly send us through to the Quarters and Clint Dempsey’s Basel double which saw the hopeful adventure come to an end.
The Europa League is not only a chance for European football and to play some of the great footballing sides but is also the chance for a quick Geography lesson – something which is more appropriate than ever with our Play-off rivals. Tbilisi are an older famous side if you will. They won the UEFA Cup Winner Cup back in 1981 and I think the most likely comparison possibly in regard to fame is they are similar to that of Feyenoord. They will host us in their newly refurbished ‘Dinamo Arena’ which can hold a stunning 78,000 fans of which an expected 2,000 will be Tottenham on the night.
Spurs last faced the Georgians in 1973, the first leg was at Dinamo’s Locomotive Stadium on November 28th with Ralph Coates scoring for Tottenham but they managed to pull one back. However in the return fixture, Tottenham won 5-1 to claim the tie with goals coming from Martin Peters (x2), Martin Chivers (x2) and Chris McGrath – a very young lad of 19 – scoring also.
Looking to the game. I expect to see a fairly strong Tottenham side. Dinamo are quite possibly the toughest opponents we could have faced in this round and with AVB on the hunt for trophies, I expect him to treat this fixture as if it were any other. Brad Friedel should return to the side after some truly awesome Pre-Season performances, especially in the Asia trophy. Our backline could be similar to the win at Palace with Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson keeping their places however Younes Kaboul could feature as he did on Sunday to give Jan Vertonghen a rest and possibly the young Kyle Naughton on the opposite flank challenging Danny Rose for his spot.
Villas-Boas is likely to give Etienne Capoue his first start as a Tottenham player as Scott Parker (a usual feature in AVB’s Europa League side) left for Fulham this week. Gylfi Sigurdsson could reprise his number ten role as displayed against Palace with Andros Townsend likely to feature and Nacer Chadli getting involved with Aaron Lennon likely to be rested. Jermain Defoe could start as to rest Roberto Soldado.
Something prominent amongst Spurs’ Europa League teams is it’s very difficult to predict the side however I believe it will be:
Friedel, Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Naughton, Capoue, Dembele, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Chadli, Defoe
Predicted Score: Dinamo Tbilisi 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Townsend)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Match Review and make sure to follow our extensive Match-day coverage on Twitter @TalkingTHFC. Side note – thank you to all whom followed this week as we hit 11,000 followers. Thanks for your growing support.