Tottenham return to Europa League action this week as they take on the arguably toughest Group C opponents, Besiktas. The Turkish giants missed out to Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal in Champions League qualifiers, and with Tottenham running the Emirates residents close on the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino will be quietly confident ahead of Thursday.
Last time out, Tottenham ended a difficult away fixture with a 0-0 draw in Serbia, against Partizan Belgrade. The result sent them bottom of Group C. Spurs battled well for the draw and will look to build open their unbeaten start to the competition. Besiktas drew 1-1 against Asteras Tripolis in Matchday One, Gokhan Tore on target.
Spurs and Besiktas have met before. Goals from Hossam Ghaly and Dimitar Berbatov secured a 2-0 win in the group stage of the then-UEFA Cup in Istanbul October, 2006. Berbatov’s goal that night particularly memorable in the minds of Spurs fans. Tottenham will play against some familiar faces on Thursday. As well as former Newcastle and Chelsea striker Ba, Besiktas are managed by Slaven Bilic, the Croatian legend who played at Everton and West Ham.
This is Besiktas’ sixth group stage campaign in this competition – they failed to make it through three UEFA Cup group stages but have progressed on both attempts since the advent of the UEFA Europa League. Besiktas were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Eskisehirspor on Saturday. Besiktas remain unbeaten after four games in the Turkish SuperLig league this season. Besiktas’ UEFA club competition record in England is W2 D0 L5; in London it is W1 D0 L1 – they beat Chelsea 2-0 in 2003 but lost 1-0 at Arsenal in August.
Besiktas’ most successful era came under the management of Gordon Milne, when they won three consecutive league championships in the early 90s. Capped 14 times by England, Milne was best known for playing for Liverpool during the 1960s, where he made more than 250 appearances and won two league titles and the FA Cup.
Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Danny Rose is doubtful for the game. The manager also confirmed that is unsure when right-back Kyle Walker will return for the club. Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane are expected to start upfront for the home side.
Starting XI – Vorm, Naughton, Fazio, Chiriches, Davies; Stambouli, Bentaleb, Lennon, Townsend, Soldado, Kane
Score – Tottenham 1-1 Besiktas