Lewis Holtby is aiming high in this season’s Europa League as Tottenham prepare for their third group match. The third team in Group K of the Europa League is FC Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova. Tottenham have won their opening two matches while FC Sheriff have drawn both games. They are champions of the Moldovan League and their season of European football started in the Champions League in mid-July.FC Sheriff have won the league in Moldova for the past two seasons and have won it in 12 of the last 13 seasons. They entered this season’s Champions League competition in the 2nd qualifying Round defeating Sutjeska of Bosnia and Herzegovina on an aggregate of 6 – 1 after a 1 – 1 draw in the 1st leg at home. In the next round they faced Dinamo Zagreb losing 4 – 0 on aggregate. Having lost by only a single goal in the 1st leg in Croatia, they lost heavily in the return game.
Dropping into the play-off Round of the Europa League, they played FK Vojvodina of Serbia. A 1 – 1 draw in the away leg was followed by a 2 – 1 win in Moldova. Their two group games have ended in draws – a scoreless draw at home to Anzhi and a 1 – 1 draw in Tromso. They gained the point in Norway as their ten men battled back to equalise with three minutes to play. They had gone behind in the 65th minute and 8 minutes later defender Milo was sent off. A goal from Ricardinho (11) rescued a point for them.
FC Sheriff have six Brazilian players in their squad including the goalscorer against Tromso, midfielder Ricardinho. According to Andre Villas-Boas they have a big influence on the team and their style of play. His comments in the pre-match press conference were reported by @SpursOfficial .
Their leading goalscorer is another Brazilian, Henrique Luvannor (90). He is 23 years of age and has scored 10 league goals this season. They are currently 4 points clear at the top of the Moldova League with 29 points from 12 games. They have lost only once with 2 drawn games. Last weekend they drew 1 – 1 with FC Zimbru (Chisinau) the team Tottenham played in the UEFA Cup on the only other occasion they have met a club from Moldova.
The most recent Moldova international squad contained two players from FC Sheriff – midfielders, Serghei Gheorghiev and Alexandru Pașcenco. England had comfortable wins over Moldova in the recent World Cup qualifying campaign. They won 5 – 0 in Moldova and followed that up with a 4 – 0 win at Wembley. Jermain Defoe scored one of the goals in the first match in Moldova.
Spurs have brought a strong squad to Moldova. Emmanuel Adebayor has travelled with the party but Kyle walker, Paulinho and Andros Townsend have been left in London. Danny Rose, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue have not recovered from their injuries. Young defender Kevin Stewart is included in the party. As in previous rounds, AVB will make use of the squad players with plenty of strength in depth as back-up. This match could provide an opportunity for Aaron Lennon to start after his time out with injury and Erik Lamela will want to impress after having limited chances since coming to Spurs. Adebayor could well get time during the game.Jermain Defoe has scored 5 goals in three Europa League games this season. He is only one goal behind Martin Chivers on Tottenham’s all-time goalscorers record in European competitions so will be looking to add to his 21 European goals.
Lewis Holtby is taking the Europa League seriously. His pre-match comments have been reported by @SpursOfficial and he is certainly aiming high.
We want to achieve big things this season and the Europa League is a big trophy for us to to aim for’.
He spoke of the competition for places within the Tottenham squad and the desire to be involved in matches.