VS Preview: APOEL v Spurs
We're playing for Second? It's between us and Dortmund...!
No Moussa? Again! Without Dembele we have a new system, effectively a 3-6-1 with wing-backs either side of a diamond midfield. You have to ask if these long terms injuries are now going to start affecting us. They are certainly reducing our options in key positions like left back where, if Davies was to get injured, we would have to play players out of position. Moussa's continual injury niggle is robbing us of a very important player at key times. Poch has found a role for Sissoko at last, playing alongside Christian Eriksen in the middle, making the most of his strength on the ball. Some say it is almost a new-look Spurs. But! Who put Sissoko on the goal line to mark an attacker on Saturday? Who ever thought that Sissoko marking Hernandez on the goal line on Saturday was a good idea needs their head examined? That goal let the Hammers get back into the game! As for Aurier's sending off I assume he may reign it in a bit from now on!
Our new 'Diamond' will be missing one of its Jewels, namely Dele, and one of our other jewels, Verts, who is also suspended. So! Could Foyth play in a back 3 or will Poch go for four at the back with Trippier and Davies or will Aurier play because he can't play on Saturday against Huddersfield.
Interestingly all 3 Right Backs Trippier, Aurier and KWP were on the plane, no sign of Foyth though!
There are few players in APOEL's team which we as fans have not heard of but some of the Spurs players do. Dutch striker Lorenzo Ebecilio was at Ajax between 2010 and 2013, playing alongside Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. He's injured anyway! Domestically APOEL are not having a good season they are currently in 10th place in their 14-team league after three rounds of the season. APOEL come into our game with just one win in their last six matches. That included 3 defeats and 2 draws. APOEL's first CL game was against REAL and whilst you would have thought they were going to be slaughtered they came away with just a 3-0 defeat. No doubt APOEL will have seen that two banks of four and ten men behind the ball is standard against us but they will also have seen what we did to Dortmund if they press too high! 3 points from this one, 3 points against them back at Wembley and it's all down to whether we can get a draw in Germany to nick 2nd place working on the pessimistic view that we won't be taking any points off REAL in either leg!
We don't get many trips to Cyprus but when we do we travel well. Spurs have been to Cyprus twice before in Europe; in October 2007, we played Anorthosis Famagusta away in a UEFA Cup game and drew 1-1, having comfortably won the 1st Round first leg game 6-1 at White Hart Lane. Martin Jol was in charge then and got fired in the next game! 3 seasons ago we played AEL Limmasol in the first round of a Europa League play-off game and we won 2-1 with goals by Bobby Soldado and Harry. That was Harry's first European club goal.
Will APOEL be a push over? Not necessarily they have a good home record in Europe, apart from a defeat by Anderlecht in last season's Europa League that was their only home defeat in 11 games, with nine wins. Not sure how many travelling Spurs fans there will be but their stadium in Nicosia only holds just under 23,000 so it should be a good atmosphere. APOEL have reached the quarter finals before in the CL, in 2012, but then they met REAL and that was the end of that! Some of APOEL's squad play for their country. Their Portuguese defender Nuno Miguel Morais was on Chelsea's books 13 years ago and did have some starts. To give you an idea of their standard of players Andreas Makris was a summer signing from Walsall! To say we have to come away with all 3 points is an understatement as we face REAL next month and I doubt if anyone realistically believes we will get a result in Madrid. As Son did not get a start against West Ham, and Dele Alli can`t play anyway, we should expect maybe a four at the back to allow Son to play further up the pitch with Dier, Sissoko, Eriksen and Kane making the spine of the midfield with Winks coming on to protect the back four if we are winning and possibly GKN to come on if we need to turn the game around.