Tottenham meet FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the return game of the return game of the Europa League group stages. Tottenham have won their opening three matches including a 2 – 0 success in Moldova a fortnight ago.
After winning 2 – 0 in the away game so recently, expectations will be high for another Tottenham to ensure their passage to the knock-out stages of the competition to be played next February. While goals from Jan Vertonghen and Jermain Defoe won the game for Spurs, FC Sheriff caused the Tottenham defence a few nervous moments and with more clinical finishing and a better use of the offside laws, the champions of Moldova could have caused Spurs serious embarrassment.
Last Visitors from Moldova
In the UEFA Cup in 1999 Tottenham defeated FC Zimbru from Moldova 3 – 0 in the 1st leg match in the 1st Round and with a scoreless draw a fortnight later progressed to the next round.
Since the game with Spurs, FC Sheriff have won their next two League games, defeating FC Veris (Chisinau) 3 – 0 at home and securing a 3 – 2 away over FC Rapid (Ghidighici) last weekend. They have a 7 point advantage in the National League with 35 points from 14 games. They have suffered only one defeat in their domestic programme this season with 2 draws and 11 wins.
In European competitions they progressed to the Play-off Round of the Champions League before losing both ties to Dynamo Zagreb, although they only lost by a single goal in Croatia. They started their Europa League games with two draws before losing to Spurs. Anzhi are currently second in Group K with 4 points while Sheriff are 3rd with 2 points, one more than Tromso.
The Sheriff squad has 6 Brazilians and the team which started against Tottenham in the previous match did not contain any Moldovan players. It was only the introduction of midfielder Valentin Furdui in the second half that a local player became involved for the final twenty minutes. A second player from Moldova, striker Vadim Paireli, came on for the last two minutes.
FC Sheriff have a policy of bringing in young players from South America, especially Brazil, to develop them and then sell them to other clubs in Europe.
Andre Villas-Boas will be wanting Spurs to win this game and complete the qualifying process for the next stage of the competition. There have been no surprises in his selection policy as he has rotated his players, making 7 or 8 changes for each game. Brad Friedel may get the opportunity to play to ensure Hugo Lloris had recovered completely from the knock on the head which he received at Everton. Andros Townsend may also be rested to ensure there is no damage to his injured wrist.
Fans will be looking for Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen to play a major part in this game as they become used to Spurs style of play. Harry Kane may also have an opportunity to build on his brief but commendable display against Hull in the Capital One Cup last week. Jermain Defoe needs just one more goal to equal Martin Chivers’ record of 22 goals in European competitions for Tottenham.
Spurs Legend Predicts
Graham Roberts fully expects Tottenham to score four goals against Sheriff. He was with the Tottenham party for the game in Moldova and is convinced that Spurs will win the return game with ease. The Sheriff team is comprised of young players and at White Hart Lane, Spurs, even with a changed team, will have players with international experience who will be too good for the visitors from Moldova.
It would be good to see a ‘double’ tonight – Lamela’s first Tottenham goal and Defoe equalling or beating Chivers’ European record.