Tottenham play Tromso at White Hart Lane tonight in the first of their six Europa League group matches. The match kicks off at 8.05pm (UK time) and can be seen live on ITV4 with coverage online at www.itv4.com. Spurs are looking to ensure they start this stage of the Europa League campaign with a win against the weakest team in their group. It is only the second time that Spurs have faced Norwegian opponents in european competition.
Date: Thursday, 19th September
Kick-off Time: 8.05pm
TV Channel: ITV4
Live Stream: www.itv4.com
Tromso IL were knocked out of the Europa League at the last Play-off Round after losing 3 – 2 on aggregate to Besiktas but were re-instated when the Turkish club’s ban on playing in European competitions was upheld. They had won 2 – 1 in the home, 1st leg, tie but lost 2 – 0 in Turkey. The Turkish club’s misdemeanours led to a reprieve for the Norwegian club who qualified for the Europa League by finishing 4th in last season’s league competition in Norway.
Road to White Hart Lane:
Tromso’s participation in this season’s Europa League started in early July.
1st Qualifying Round: They have had a rocky road to White Hart Lane and it nearly came to a premature end in the 1st Round. They were at home to Celje of Slovenia in the 1st leg but lost 1 – 2. They managed to redeem themselves with a 2 – 0 success in Slovenia.
2nd Qualifying Round: Inter Baku of Azerbaijan were their next opponents with the 1st leg at home. They won 2 – 0 at home but lost the 2nd leg match 0 – 1 to progress with a 2 – 1 aggregate win.
3rd Qualifying Round: The Luxembourg team, Differdange 03, proved difficult opponents and a close tie was settled by penalties. After a 1 – 0 win in the home leg, Tromso lost by a similar score in the 2nd leg. Still level after extra time Tromso held their nerve to win 4 – 3 on penalties.
Play-off Round: Besiktas of Turkey were beaten n Norway but won on aggregate only for the authorities to step in and banish them from the tournament to the benefit of Tromso IL.
The Norwegian season starts in March and to date Tromso have played 23 matches of their 30 game League season. This is their 11th consecutive season in the top Division but they are currently sitting 13th in the 16 team League. They are 5 points above the bottom two teams in the relegation places but are level on points with the team in the relegation play-off place. They have 25 points from 6 wins and 7 draws.
The team is mostly comprised of Norwegian players but one exception is their midfield player, Welshman Josh Pritchard. He is on loan from Fulham and has played throughout the season. Fulham signed 20-year-old in 2009, having been released by Manchester United.
Tromso’s goalkeeper is former Swedish Under-21 international, Marcus Sahlman. He has been with the club since 2009 and has made over 80 league appearances.
Their leading goalscorers, with 8 goals in all competitions this season, are – Remi Johansen, a midfield player who has been with the club for four seasons, Zdeněk Ondrášek a former Under-21 international for the Czech Republic and Thomas Kind Bendiksen a former Norway youth international who spent four years with Rangers. A serious knee injury put him out for a year and hindered his progress. The 24 year old, attacking midfield player returned to Norway and Tromso in 2012.
Andre Villas-Boas will probably select a team similar to the one which defeated Tbilisi in the previous with players who have had limited playing time so far this season starting the game but with a strong bench to call upon if required.
Brad Friedel will return in goal, Kyle Naughton and Danny Rose could be at full back to give Kyle Walker a rest after playing both of the recent internationals for England. Younes Kaboul will be in central defence with possibly Vlad Chiriches, if he has been granted his work permit, otherwise Michael Dawson will probably play. Aaron Lennon is still troubled by a foot injury and with Nacer Chadli also out with a hip problem, Andros Townsend with start as will Sandro and probably Lewis Holtby with Gylfi Sigurdsson. Erik Lamela may start his first game for Tottenham with Jermain Defoe who scored twice against Tbilisi as striker.
There is only one result to expect from this match and it is a convincing Tottenham win even with a weakened team. Any other result will be a complete shock.