Tottenham could become the second side ever to qualify for the next round of the Europa League in three games if they beat FC Sheriff tomorrow night. With the long trip to Moldova, a young squad and a newly fit Emmanuel Adebayor and Aaron Lennon, Spurs should get the job done.
Our opponents, FC Sheriff Tiraspol are based in Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway state of Transnistria, generally recognized as part of Moldova. The club plays in the Divizia Naţională, the top division in Moldovan football and were founded by the Sheriff security company on 4 April 1997, who remains a key sponsor. The club was officially refounded under the leadership of Victor Gushan (the company’s president). The first Sheriff coach, Ahmad Alaskarov (who was the coach in the old Soviet Supreme League), lead the team to the Moldovan top division. Our destination, Sheriff Stadium is owned by the Sheriff corporation. It was constructed by the company in 2002. It has a seating capacity for 14,300 spectators and is eligible for international events, such as the matches of the Moldova national football team.
The home outfit, FC Sheriff Tiraspol, have a large contingent of Brazil-born players, including their most notable, midfielder Ricardinho, who scored last time out against Tromso. They will be without former Real Betis defender Melli, though, because of a red card that he picked up in the same game. Roberto Soldado has previously played and scored against him for Valencia. Spurs have faced Moldovan opposition on one previous occasion, which saw them defeat FC Zimbru Chisinau 3-0 on aggregate back in 1999.
This seasons competition has been far more successful for Spurs. With the ability to change the team almost entirely, Tottenham have been able to field a strong side for each Europa League encounter which has so far seen us qualify for the group stage with an 8-0 aggregate win over Dinamo Tbilisi and successfully best Tromsø (3-0) and Anzhi Makhachkala (2-0). As previously stated, if Tottenham win in Moldova, they will become only the second side to ever successfully qualify for the next round after just three games. Tottenham have little concern injury wise heading into the game. It’s likely that Villas-Boas will rotate his starting lineup, which could see the likes of Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Kyle Naughton given an opportunity from the outset however I would like to see Emmanuel Adebayor take part at some stage after he did make the trip to Moldova.
Predicted Lineup: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Stewart, Fryers; Dembélé, Lamela, Lennon, Chadli; Adebayor, Defoe
Predicted Score: FC Sheriff 0-4 Tottenham
Hope you’ve enjoyed another Match Preview from us. Obviously the team selection is so unpredictable and will of course change however this is the side I could see AVB playing with. Make sure to join us tomorrow for live commentary @TalkingTHFC. COYS!