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Tottenham Team To Win Against FC Basel in Europa League

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Tottenham’s chances of progressing to the semi-final of the Europa League hang in the balance following their 2 – 2 draw at White Hart Lane in the 1st leg. If they are to progress, realistically they need to defeat Basel as a high scoring draw of more than 2 – 2 appears less likely. The other possibility is a 2 – 2 draw which would take the tie to extra time and the dreaded penalty shoot-out where Tottenham’s record is abysmally poor.

Hugo Lloris Crucial to Tottenham success [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]As Tottenham don’t play next weekend due to Chelsea’s participation in the FA Cup semi-final the players will have a full ten days to recover before the important League match against Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Sunday week. With the possibility of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon returning to fitness for that match, Andre Villas-Boas has no reason to  rest players in Switzerland. Tottenham have expended a great deal of effort to reach this advanced stage of the competition so the strongest available MUST be selected.

My team for the match in Basel would be:

Hugo Lloris: More than any other player, Hugo Lloris must play in Switzerland. He is Tottenham’s best goalkeeper, he comes off his line quickly to collect crosses, sweeps up behind the back four and brings an assurance to the defence. Some may say that he didn’t help on Sunday but he is a world class goalkeeper and should be first choice for this match. It was his performance in Rome against Lazio which earned a scoreless draw and set up Spurs to progress to the knock-out stages. I have nothing against Brad Friedel, he has done exceptionally well for Spurs over the past two seasons but now is the time to put out the strongest team. Friedel won’t be happy but it’s about winning the game and the best opportunity will come with Lloris in goal.

Kyle Walker: He is Spurs best right back and he brings pace to a team which is severely depleted in that area without Bale and Lennon. His pace on the wing can be used positively in attack and he uses it to good purpose to recover in defence. He must, however, remain cool under pressure and avoid silly, impetus challenges which give away free-kicks in dangerous positions.

Michael Dawson: Dawson will bring commitment and leadership to the team. He deserves the chance of European matches, having had to step down to allow William Gallas into the team on the big European nights as Villas-Boas rotated his central defenders.

Jan Vertonghen: Dawson brings the commitment, Vertonghen brings the composure and experience of European football. Central defence is his best position and he is Spurs best defender and Dawson and he have a good understanding. There is the added bonus of his ability to step into midfield and deliver a telling, positive pass.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto should start at left back. [Photo: Jan The DoC_66]Benoit Assou-Ekotto:  Assou-Ekotto doesn’t appear to be AVB’s first choice at left back but for such an important match he needs to play because he is a left back, he’s left footed and he has experience. He knows the position both defensively and going forward. He remains cool under pressure in defence, sometimes too laid back, but he can also deliver dangerous crosses into the penalty area. He has the pace to recover if caught up-field when a Spurs attack breaks down.

Lewis Holtby: He brings the enthusiasm and energy of youth to midfield. He wants the ball, goes looking for it and will run all day with enthusiasm. He’s prepared to get forward and shoot but he can also pick a pass to play Adebayor or a supporting midfield player in on goal. He needs to remember to do his defensive duties, covering back to support his full-back.

Scott Parker: He brings the experience of age to the team with a combative, hard-working style in midfield. He will work tirelessly for the team and give total commitment.

Mousa Dembele: He brings the power and control to midfield with the ability to move forward and strike at goal. He needs to be the dominant player in central midfield, taking responsibility for the role.

Gylfi Sigurdsson: He has scored in the last two matches and has worked hard. Another player who can deliver a telling pass. With getting his opportunity in the team we are seeing an improvement in his play and his goals have been crucial in the last two matches.

Clint Dempsey: Playing behind the striker suits him best in the Tottenham set-up. He took  time to settle into the second striker/support role but had grown into the position around the turn of the year and provided important goals. Changes in the team saw him lose his position and then injury restricted him. He has now had two games with the US international team and playing against Everton will have helped his return to full fitness. He has the knack of being in the right position at the right time which could be useful with Tottenham needing goals.

Emmanuel Adebayor: Two goals and an assist in his last two games has been Adebayor’s most productive period of the season. He showed a greater endeavour against Everton and hopefully will build on that as Spurs can’t afford to be playing with ‘ten’ men on Thursday evening.

Tom Carroll an option from the bench [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]The one area which is of concern is Tottenham’s lack of depth from the bench. The squad has been so hit by injury that there are few options available to Andre Villas-Boas if he wants to implement change. All he has been able to do in recent weeks has been to replace like with like and hope that the in-coming player can bring a little more energy to the team and perform the role better that the player replaced. Tom Carroll is probably the only player who could bring a slight change to proceedings with his passing ability.

Tactics

Totttenham’s approach to the game will be vital. In the early matches in the Europa League this season they played a very disciplined, controlled style of game. They went about their business quietly and effectively, took the result and moved on. In Milan against Inter they played rather naively with a very open approach, looking for an away goal when already three ahead, which encouraged Inter to attack them. Inter took full advantage and Spurs struggled to have any control as the game progressed.

Tottenham need to score but one goal would be sufficient if they can deny Basel so they must not chase the game early on. They need to be solid in defence to contain Basel’s early desire to score and strengthen their position. Basel have an excellent home record in Europe and have experience of crucial matches. Last year they defeated Manchester United 2 – 1 in the final group game to progress to the knock-out stages at United’s expense. In next round they had a single goal victory over Bayern Munich before being over-run in the second leg in Germany. It won’t be an easy task facing Tottenham in front of a very vociferous home crowd.

Spurs haven’t won an away game in Europe this season. Their last away win in Europe was in the Champions League against AC Milan in what was an almost perfect away European performance. They did win in Scotland and Ireland last year but not on the continent of Europe. To succeed Tottenham require a repeat of that display against AC Milan and the players will need to show discipline, patience, control, application, endeavour and total commitment.

Come On You Spurs!

Over To You

Can they do it?