Tottenham start their European campaign in Georgia against the League and Cup winners, Dinamo Tbilisi. The Europa League Play-off Round match has a 5pm (UK time) kick-off and can now be seen on ITV4.
They’ve Met Before:
Tottenham and Dinamo Tbilisi met in the 3rd Round of the UEFA Cup in 1973-74. Spurs had defeated Grasshoppers Zurich and Aberdeen in the previous rounds and, as on this occasion, were away in the first leg with the match played in late November. Ralph Coates scored the Spurs goal that night to give them a first half lead. Saves from Pat Jennings kept Spurs ahead but with just over 15 minutes to play Dinamo Tbilisi equalised. The match ended in a 1 – 1 draw, giving Tottenham a good chance with the 2nd leg at White Hart Lane.
Team: Jennings; Evans, Knowles; Pratt, England, Beal; Naylor, Perryman, Chivers, Peters, Coates
Dinano Tbilisi finished top of the first stage of the 12 team League in Georgia winning 16 games with only two defeats in 22 matches. They then topped the League at the end of the Championship Round where the top six teams play again and were undefeated in the section giving them a total of 24 wins and a 10 point advantage over their nearest rivals. They also won the Cup to secure the ‘Double’.
In this season’s competition they have played two games recording a 2 -1 home win and a 1 – 1 draw away draw.
As winners of the League, they qualified for this season’s Champions League and played in two Rounds. They defeated EB/Streymur, a team from the Faroe Islands 9 – 2 on aggregate in the 2nd Qualifying Round. They won the home leg 6 – 1 and followed that with a 3 – 1 success away from home. In the first match they scored 4 goals in the last 20 minutes with goals by Spanish veteran Xisco and new signings Elguja Grigalashvili and Vouho (2). The first half goals came from Ustaritz and Dvali giving them a 2 – 1 interval advantage. Two goals in the opening 12 minutes by Xisco and Dvali set them on their way in the return game and although they conceded a goal before the interval they secured victory with a late goal from Glišić.
Tbilisi then lost 3 – 1 on aggregate to Steaua Bucharest in the 3rd Qualifying Round. They lost the 1st leg at home by two second half goals but earned a 1 – 1 draw in Bucharest in the 2nd leg. They conceded an early goal but fought back to equalise early in the second half through Ustaritz.
With elimination from the Champions League, they dropped into the Europa League.
Andre Villas-Boas has taken a full strength squad to Georgia with the exception of Jan Vertonghen and Aaron Lennion. Vertonghen had rushed back from injury to play at Crystal Palace and was not considered for the long journey while Lennon has had a problem with his foot. Both are expected to be available for Sunday’s home game with Swansea.
Villas-Boas played a strong team in last year’s Europa League and having taken his top players many will be expecting to play to ensure Spurs progress to the group stages of the tournament. Brad Friedel may start this match in goal but otherwise the team could be similar to the one which won at Selhust Park. Younes Kaboul will probably replace Vertonghen with Etienne Capoue or Andros Townsend in midfield.
Tottenham will be looking for a win this evening to set them up for next week’s return at White Hart Lane which comes three days before the north London derby against Arsenal at The Emirates. With Arsenal’s comfortable 3 – 0 win last night in Turkey in the Champions League they will be able to rest a number of players before the match against Spurs.