Thursday, 23 October 2014

Must win tie match preview, tough night

Thanks to the Vlad Chiriches factor this UEFA Europa League tie has become a must win game for Tottenham Hotspur.

Must win tie match preview, tough night

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

Greece Asteras Tripoli211031+24
Turkey Beşiktaş20202202
England Tottenham Hotspur20201102
Serbia Partizan201102−21

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 TripoliBeşiktaşPartizan BelgradeTottenham Hotspur
Asteras Tripoli27 Nov2–06 Nov
Beşiktaş1–16 Nov11 Dec
Partizan Belgrade11 Dec23 Oct0–0
Tottenham Hotspur23 Oct1–127 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

18/9/2014Partizan  0-0  Tottenham
2/10/2014Tottenham  1-1  Besiktas
23/10/2014Tottenham  v  Tripolis
6/11/2014Tripolis  v  Tottenham
27/11/2014Tottenham  v  Partizan
11/12/2014Besiktas  v  Tottenham

Asteras Tripoli 2015 UEFA Europa League Group C Fixtures

18/9/2014Besiktas  1-1  Tripolis
2/10/2014Tripolis  2-0  Partizan
23/10/2014Tottenham  v  Tripolis
6/11/2014Tripolis  v  Tottenham
27/11/2014Tripolis  v  Besiktas
11/12/2014Partizan  v  Tripolis

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 HomeAway
1PAOK15 Nov21 Mar
2Veria6 Dec11 Apr
3Olympiakos1 Nov7 Mar
4Kalloni1 - 031 Jan
5Kerkyra3 May3 Jan
6Panathinaikos29 Nov4 Apr
7Atromitos14 Mar8 Nov
9OFI Crete28 Feb26 Oct
10Giannina10 Jan3 - 1
11Panionios24 Jan2 - 1
12Platanias7 Feb0 - 1
13Xanthi20 Dec25 Apr
14Panthrakikos18 Apr13 Dec
15Panaitolikos1 - 121 Feb
16Ergotelis28 Mar22 Nov
17Niki Volos14 Feb6 Oct
18Levadiakos2 - 117 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.

Davies - Europa League is important

Ben Davies is looking forward to tonight's UEFA Europa League tie against Group C leaders Asteras Tripolis of Greece. The kick-off is 8.05pm GMT and being shown on ITV4.

Davies - Europa League is important

The summer signing from Swansea, who played in this competition last season, is pleased to be getting another game and realises the importance of trying to win the tournament.

"I think it's a good competition for the club to be in. It gives the entire squad an opportunity for games, and games at the top level at that. 
"The winner of this year's competition is guaranteed a spot in next year's Champions League too, so we've got to go into this competition looking to win it really, and if that means getting a Champions League spot at the end of it then that's great for us. 
"We're expecting a tough game tomorrow. They are top of the league in our group and we've got to go out there as if it's a game against one of the best clubs in Europe. 
"We've got to put our performance right on the field first, and if that's right then hopefully we'll be able to get the three points."

With Mauricio Pochettino usually making 10 changes to the starting line up everyone in the squad is getting the chance to impress and that enables Pochettino to have a look at them all in competitive action, as well as the training field.

Moving forward that will allow him to assess the whole squad and highlight the areas he feels need strengthening.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bentaleb out of Europa League tie

Nabil Bentaleb who generally now plays with the rest of the second team in these UEFA Europa League and domestic cup ties will miss the game on Thursday with an ankle injury.

Bentaleb out of Europa League tie

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino revealed to the assembled press that Bentaleb would miss the tie against Greek side Asteras Tripolis while giving his pre-game press conference today.

"Nabil is injured and we hope he recovers as soon as possible. After that there is Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton and it is the same situation as before."

Hugo Lloris has been in outstanding form this season, rescuing Spurs on a number of occasions. Unfortunately our defence hasn't been in such great form and has given him too much to do. He has had to rescue us on a number of occasions so it is quite probable that he will stay in goal ahead of Michel Vorm tomorrow.

Vorm must be straining at the bit but fortunately there is the next round of the League Cup coming up next week and the summer signing will no doubt figure in that game, as he did in the previous round against Nottingham Forest.

Are we watching the wrong Marseilles players?

Tottenham are being linked with an interest in another Marcelo Bielsa player, this time French midfielder Giannelli Imbula.

Are we watching the wrong Marseilles players?

According to various reports in the tabloids Chelsea, QPR and Arsenal are also said to be watching the 22-year-old who also holds citizenship of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The figure they have thrown at the story is £12 million.

Off to transfermarkt and their valuation is £4.40 million, often out but by nearly £8 million at the lower end of the market? I'd question whether he was a £12 million player immediately, although he does have a contract until 2018 which makes him more expensive and less likely to be a Daniel Levy type target.

Any player playing for new coach Marcelo Bielsa at Marseilles though has to be of interest to us as they play the high-tempo high-press that is Pochettino's style, a style he learned from Bielsa. Anyone already playing the system should take minimal time to adapt. Marseilles sit top of Liege 1 by 7 points from moneybags PSG having scored 25 goals in 10 games and conceded 8.

They have the highest goalscorer in the league this season with 10 goals, 28-year-old André-Pierre Gignac. His contract runs out at the end of the season and is listed as having a value of around £7.92 million. I wonder if we should be watching him as well, not a player in the news but certainly one who clearly knows where the back of the net is.

He has played in all 10 games, completing 9 of them so has a similar profile to the other Marseilles player we are said to be tracking, left-side or central midfielder Andre Ayew. Imbula though is a defensive midfielder, an area we need to strengthen with Capoue not moving the bll forward fast enough.

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