Tottenham have travelled to the Ukraine for their first match in the knock-out stage of the Europa League. Against the background of unrest in that country in the Round of 32 they face Dnipro and will also come up against their former manager, Juande Ramos.
***Tottenham announced this morning that the match will go ahead this evening in Ukraine***
The Europa League has once again required Tottenham to undertake extensive travel, this time to the Ukraine where they will face Dnipro who are manager by Juande Ramos, the last Spurs manager to win a trophy, the Carling Cup in 2008.
Team: Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb, Capoue, Paulinho; Chadli, Soldado, Townsend
Subs: Archer, Fryers, Veljkovic, Eriksen, McEvoy, Onomah, Kane
Date: Thursday, 20th February
Kick-off Time: 6.00pm (UK time)
TV Channel: ITV4
Live Stream: http://www.itv.com/itv4/
Dnipro finished 4th in last season’s Ukraine Premier League and in the Europa League finished second in Group E, behind Fiorentina. They lost both matches to the group winners (1 -2 in both games), but won the other four against Pandurii Targu-Jui of Romania and Pacos de Ferreira from Portugal. In their two home games they defeated Pandurii 2 – 0 and Pacos 4 – 1 having reached the group stages with a 5 – 1 aggregate win over Nomme Kalju of Estonia which included a 2 – 0 home win.
Dnipro are currently in 4th position in the league, 6 points adrift of Champions and leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, having played one game less than the leaders. Their last competitive match was in mid-December in the Europa League against Fiorentina but since then with the Ukraine League on a winter break Dnipro have played a series of friendly matches. They have been at a winter training camp in Marbella where they played regularly. Their league season recommences at the beginning of March after the second leg match at White Hart Lane.
In the Ukraine League, Dnipro have played 9 home games this season, winning 6 with 2 draws and only 1 defeat, losing 1 – 3 to Zorya Luhansk. They defeated Shakhtar 3 – 1 early in the season and drew 2 – 2 with second placed Metalist Kharkiv prior to the winter break.
Their star player in the Dnipro team is winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, a player Liverpool were reported to be interested in signing in the last transfer window. The Ukraine international scored against England in the 2014 World Cup match at Wembley in September 2012 and can play on either wing as well as through the middle.
Tottenham in Ukraine
Tottenham’s only previous match in the Ukraine was in the UEFA Cup in 2008 against Shakhtar Donetsk the 3rd Round when Harry Redknapp fielded an understrength team due to the club’s perilous position in the Premier League. The match was played five years ago yesterday with Spurs losing 0 – 2. Heurelho Gomes had an uncomfortable evening as Spurs weakened side battled hard only to concede two late goals. Dean Parrett made his debut and there were five youth-team players on the bench. Shakhtar scored with a header in the 79th and secured victory with a second two minutes from time.
Team: Gomes; Gunter, Huddlestone, Dawson, Chimbonda; Jenas, Zokora, Parrett (Bostock), Bentley; Giovani (Bent), Campbell)
As expected Tim Sherwood left a number of players in London – Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor. Sandro, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches remain out with injury so Sherwood will have the opportunity to use a number of players who haven’t played recently. Nacer Chadli, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Roberto Soldado will be hoping to start and the team I suggested yesterday with Brad Friedel in place of Lloris who didn’t travel could be near the starting line-up with possibly Etienne Capoue or Paulinho in from the start.
Possible team: Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Fryers; Townsend, Sigurdsson, Bentaleb, Eriksen, Chadli; SoldadoTim v Juande
Tottenham can expect a difficult match against Dnipro as Ramos, the master of European cup football, will be determined to prove a point to Daniel Levy. The experienced European manager, Juande Ramos, with a record of success against Tim Sherwood, the new boy starting out and in charge of his first European match – an interesting contest within a contest.
Tim Sherwood has suggested that he would prefer winning the Europa League over finishing fourth. I understand his thoughts but there will be some who will take exception to these comments.
With the trouble in Ukraine the tweets from Chris Wilde and Clayton Hodges sum up all our thoughts for the Tottenham fans, players and officials who have travelled for the game.
Those Spurs fans that are brave enough to go the game, please be careful and keep safe! #thfc
— GloryHunter since'77 (@Chris_Wilde) February 20, 2014
— Clayton Hodges (@clayski123) February 20, 2014