Tottenham’s second opponents in the Group stage of the Europa League are Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia. Having won their opening match against Tromso, Spurs will be looking to take three points in the first away match against the side currently bottom of the Russian Premier League.
Anzhi were founded in 1991 and this is their third season in European competition. It is their second spell in the Russian Premier League – they spent three seasons in the top division from 2000 and then were promoted again four years ago. Last season they finished 3rd, their highest placing in the club’s short history history. They were managed by Guus Hiddink from February, 2012 through the financial backing of their billionaire owner who purchased the club in January, 2011. He also funded the purchase of star players at excessive fees and salaries, including Roberto Carlos, Willian, Samuel Eto’o, Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea and Christopher Samba from Blackburn. Hiddink resigned last July to be replaced by former Manchester United first team coach René Meulensteen. He was sacked after 16 days and with a drastically reduced budget Gadzhi Gadzhiyev was appointed. Top players were sold with Willian and Eto’o arriving at Chelsea.
Anzhi’s debut in European competition was in the UEFA Cup in 2001-02. They played Glasgow Rangers in the 1st Round, losing 1 – 0 in a match which was played at a neutral venue due to security issues in Russia.
Last season they progressed to the Round of 16 in the Europa League, losing to Newcastle by a single goal scored late in the 2nd leg at St. James’ Park. In their Group matches they played Liverpool with both matches finishing 1 – 0 to the home side. They also played Young Boys of Berne and Udinese in the group matches and defeated Hannover 96 in the first knock out round.
This season their 3rd place finish took them into the Group stage of the competition and in their first game they took a point from a scoreless draw with Sheriff in Moldova.
With the sale of their best players Anzhi have struggled this season. The season started in mid-July but with 21 players leaving during the summer transfer window, including a full team of players who had played in early games, the club has understandably failed to reproduce last season’s form. After 11 League games Anzhi have yet to record a win. They have drawn 6 games and are 16th and last in the Russian League with their last match at home to Amkar Perm ending 2 – 2. They went ahead with a penalty just before the interval but found themselves 2 – 1 down in the 88th minute to opponents who had been playing with 10-men for the last half hour. They, however, recovered to equalise in the final minute through Solomatin, a young striker on loan from Dynamo Moscow. Their main striker is Lacina Traore but he is out injured.
P 11 W 0 D 6 L 5 For 11 Ag 18
Their next match is against Rubin Kazan who Spurs played in the Europa League in 2011, when a young team lost 1 – 0 in the away match. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the only goal of the match at White Hart Lane.
Spurs have taken a strong squad to Russia with only Jan Vertonghen and Paulinho not included. Both have had a hectic schedule since the start of the season so it is a good opportunity to give them a break ahead of Sunday’s match against West Ham. Younes Kaboul has recovered from injury and is in in the squad but Aaron Lennon, Etienne Capoue and Emmanuel Adebayor are absent.
With a win in their opening match against Tromso, Spurs will be looking for another win to strengthen their hold on the top spot in Group K of the Europa League. With Anzhi having had such a poor season Spurs will see this as an opportunity not to be missed and where previously a draw might have been regarded as a good result, this Anzhi team is not the one which gave both Liverpool and Newcastle such tough games last season.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Brad Friedel, Jordan Archer
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Zeki Fryers, Michael Dawson, Vlad Chiriches, Younes Kaboul
Midfield: Sandro, Mousa Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli
Strikers: Roberto Soldado, Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane