Greek side Asteras Tripoli currently top the group as you can see from the table below, the other game in the group is Partizan Belgrade vs Beşiktaş. A Beşiktaş win and an Asteras Tripoli win would leave us with a difficult task. It should be noted that Asteras Tripoli have already drawn 1-1 away to Beşiktaş, before beating Partizan Belgrade at home.
2015 UEFA Europa League Group C
This is now a tight group and we can not afford another slip up. We play Asteras Tripoli tonight and then the away leg in our next game before our final home tie, then finish the group stages away to Turkish side Beşiktaş.
|Fixtures and Results||Asteras Tripoli||Beşiktaş||Partizan Belgrade||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Asteras Tripoli||—||27 Nov||2–0||6 Nov|
|Beşiktaş||1–1||—||6 Nov||11 Dec|
|Partizan Belgrade||11 Dec||23 Oct||—||0–0|
|Tottenham Hotspur||23 Oct||1–1||27 Nov||—|
We need to tie up qualification and not be hanging on a result against the Turks who outplayed us at White hart Lane. We must therefore win the next three games to put this group to bed. What we need is the Greeks to come bearing gifts rather than welcome them with one.
Tottenham Hotspur 2015 UEFA Europa League Group C Fixtures
Asteras Tripoli 2015 UEFA Europa League Group C Fixtures
Our only defeat in the Group stages of the UEFA Europa League was against a Greek side, PAOK in 2011/12. This Greek side in 7 away games have yet to record a victory away from home, they have drawn 4 and lost 3, never scoring more than 1 goal.
This is their third European campaign and it's the furthest they have been. They had to come through the second qualifying stage and are one of only 4 teams left from that stage of the competition, this will be their ninth game to our fifth.
The two clubs have a couple of connections, Márton Fülöp played for us from 2004 to 2007 and represented Asteras Tripoli from 2012 to 2013 while Vlad Chiricheş and Asteras's Dorin Goian have played together for Romania.
Asteras coach, 38-year-old Staikos Vergetis, was appointed in 2013 and is renowned as a good communicator. It helps that he is fluent in several languages and has worked for the club as an interpreter, as well as a youth coach, match analyst and assistant coach. A serious knee injury prevented him having a playing career and the fact he was born in Tripoli only adds to his passion for them to do well. Being a former match analyst can only help him control the game from the sidelines.
Four draws in seven games suggests they are defensively organised and we know how we struggle against defensive organisation, an up and coming coach, this has all the hallmarks of being a tough night.
In the Greek league however Asteras Tripoli have lost 67% of their matches but we know European competition can bring out performances you don't expect, the 1-1 away draw with Beşiktaş for instance.
Their Greek league performances so far you can see below, Green = Win, Yellow = Draw and Pink = Lost.
|2014/15 Greek League Results||Home||Away|
|1||PAOK||15 Nov||21 Mar|
|2||Veria||6 Dec||11 Apr|
|3||Olympiakos||1 Nov||7 Mar|
|4||Kalloni||1 - 0||31 Jan|
|5||Kerkyra||3 May||3 Jan|
|6||Panathinaikos||29 Nov||4 Apr|
|7||Atromitos||14 Mar||8 Nov|
|9||OFI Crete||28 Feb||26 Oct|
|10||Giannina||10 Jan||3 - 1|
|11||Panionios||24 Jan||2 - 1|
|12||Platanias||7 Feb||0 - 1|
|13||Xanthi||20 Dec||25 Apr|
|14||Panthrakikos||18 Apr||13 Dec|
|15||Panaitolikos||1 - 1||21 Feb|
|16||Ergotelis||28 Mar||22 Nov|
|17||Niki Volos||14 Feb||6 Oct|
|18||Levadiakos||2 - 1||17 Jan|
People always talk about an early goal being important but it may be patience that is needed tonight. Against Beşiktaş they had 5 shots, 3 from open play and 61% of their attacking was down the right side. Four of their shots were from central (80%) and one from the right side, 3 of them (60%) were from inside the box and 2 (40%) were from outside the box.
Over half the game (52%) was played in the centre of the field with their defence being under pressure with the ball in the final third 23% of the time, they spent 24% of the time in their opponents final third. Beşiktaş managed 9 shots from open play and a further three from set pieces, 12 in total. Beşiktaş had 66% possession and an 87% pass success rate but managed only 2 shots on target out of the 12 attempts, 50% from outside the box.
Everything points to a very well organised defence hard to break down. They play a 4-3-3 system while Beşiktaş were playing a 4-2-3-1, the same as us. Their defensive midfielder 30-year-old Georgios Zisopoupos (number 13) was their man of the match, closely followed by their 27-year-old left-back, Athanasios Panteliadis (3) and their 30-year-old left centre-back Khalifa Papa Sankaré (15).
Perhaps our route to goal is through the left hand channel between the right-back and the right centre-back so it could be a game for Ben Davies to shine and whoever plays in front of him. Goals may come from that source.