Tottenham face Benfica in the 1st leg of the Round of 16 in the Europa League at White Hart Lane. To progress to the quarter-finals of the competition Spurs will need a good result against last season’s runners-up.
Team: Lloris; Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Paulinho, Sandro, Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane
Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Rose, Bentaleb, Chadli, Townsend, Soldado.
We’ve Met Before
This is the second competitive meeting between Tottenham and Benfica in European competition. The first was a memorable evening 52 years ago in the European Cup semi-finals and despite their best efforts, Bill Nicholson’s ‘Double’ winning team were unable to overturn a two goal deficit from the 1st leg. Spurs hit the woodwork twice at White Hart Lane, including a header from Dave Mackay which hit the bar three minutes from time. Spurs were left aggrieved as over the two games they had thee goals disallowed for off-side and all were contentious decisions.
Date: Thursday, 13th March
Kick-off Time: 8.05pm (UK time)
TV Channel: ITV
This season Benfica are clear leaders of the Portuguese League and have lost only one game in their domestic football when they lost their opening league game. They were in the Group stages of the Champions League but finished 3rd, level on 10 points with Olympiacos but 3 points behind Paris Saint-Germain. They lost 3 – 0 in Paris and 1 – 0 in Greece. They won their third away game against bottom team, Anderlecht 3 – 2 but it took a 90th minute winner from Roderigo to secure the points and keep alive their hopes of making it through to the knock-out stages of that competition. Despite defeating PSG 2 – 1 in the final game they were eliminated and dropped into the Europa League.
They progressed through the last round with a 4 – 0 aggregate score over PAOK Salonika, winning 1 – 0 away and scoring three goals in ten minutes late in the game with PAOK reduced to ten men. The course of their last Europa League match followed a similar course to that of Spurs against Dnipro. Both teams started slowly but raised their game to score quick goals in a spell when their opponents had a player sent off.
Benfica scored 8 goals in their 6 Champions League games plus 4 in the Europa games which have been shared around the team. Lima has 3 goals over the European games. He is their leading scorer in domestic competitions with 13 goals while Roderigo has scored 10 goals.
Everyone around Spurs will be looking for a response after the defeat at Chelsea. Words were spoken afterwards by Tim Sherwood and he has continued on that theme in the lead up to tonight’s game, saying that the players are playing for their future at the club. He was quoted in The Guardian, saying,
Sandro appears to be speaking from the same sheet as Sherwood, saying that the players had a two hour meeting following the Chelsea game where everyone had the opportunity to air their views. The Daily Mail reported his remarks,
Anyone can get outplayed. What you cannot do is get outfought and out-desired and I do not want to see that happening again, that capitulation. I want the same desire and attitude from minute one to minute 95. I won’t tolerate anything less than that and the players know that now. I want players who want to play for the club and they’ve got between now and the end of the season to show that.
For me, to be honest, it helped a lot because now I can go and tell another player, and another player can tell me. The manager likes it. Everyone can go for it now, and I think it will help. I think that is positive from ourselves and we have to show in the next match that we can do much better. And we will prove that. I am sure we will show much more character in the next matches.’
Tottenham will be without Michael Dawson due to injury but with Younes Kaboul’s red card having been overturned, he will be available. Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen have recovered following injury but there is still uncertainty over Mousa Dembele’s availability.
With Tottenham’s chances of finishing in the top-4 in the league looking very slim, Tim Sherwood will be looking for an improvement from his team to give them an opportunity of progressing to the quarter-finals after next week’s return game in Lisbon.
A European night at White Hart Lane is always a special occasion and with a club with the traditions and history of Benfica, a win would be another memorable occasion and make up for the disappointment the last time the Portuguese team were at White Hart Lane.