Here we go again! Tottenham travel to face AEL Limassol this week in the Europa League play-off qualification round; starting that long European road once again.
After a long relationship with the Europa League, Tottenham find themselves under a manager that has formerly played in the competition (as well as publicly slate it), with Mauricio Pochettino the next coach to tackle the tournament. Under Sherwood, it seemed the opinionated coach was fond of the competition, with his touchline antics against Benfica highlighting a slight passion for Europe. His predecessor, Andre Villas-Boas; championed the contest. Taking the LilyWhites to the quarter-final stage in 2013, AVB was passionate about doing well in the “Champions League’s little brother,” and should Pochettino replicate this enthusiasm, we could be looking at some glory nights at the Lane once again.
This time last year, Spurs found themselves tackling Georgian side; Dinamo Tbilisi. After a tremendous away leg in which saw a 5-0 victory, Tottenham returned to the Lane to see a Lewis Holtby masterclass earn them a 3-0 home win. This time, the challenge appears harder, with the Limassol coach adamant that his side can topple the White Hart Lane residents. Should his faith in our opponents ring true, we could be in for an interesting play-off.
Statistics (via Opta)
Spurs’ previous two away Europa League qualifying games have ended in 5-0 wins. Roberto Soldado scored a brace in Tottenham’s last away qualifying match against Dinamo Tbilisi in August 2013.
Tottenham have faced Cypriot opposition once before in European competition, beating Anorthosis Famagusta 6-1 at White Hart Lane before drawing 1-1 away. Spurs have lost just one of their last seven away European fixtures (W4 D2), keeping four clean sheets in that time.
This will be the first time AEL Limassol have faced English opposition in European competition. In 11 previous home games in European competitions, AEL Limassol have lost only twice (W7 D2; incl. Cup Winners Cup, Europa League and Champions League)
Kyle Walker (pelvis) and Vlad Chiriches (back).
Lloris, Friedel, McGee, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Dier, Davies, Rose, Veljkovic, Carroll, Bentaleb, Sandro, Paulinho, Dembele, Lamela, Chadli, Townsend, Holtby, Kane, Soldado.
Starting XI: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Davies, Sandro, Paulinho, Chadli, Townsend, Kane, Soldado
Score: AEL Limassol 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur