What to expect from Tottenham’s Champions League match with APOEL


Already assured top spot of their Champions League group, Spurs must use tomorrow’s match against APOEL to regain their sapping confidence. 

Tottenham haven’t won in five matches, picking up a single win in their last six in all competitions. That solitary victory came away to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. November has been a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, with Spurs dominating proceedings in the Group of Death in Europe’s most prestigious competition.

That sizzling European form, however, has not translated to strong Premier League performances. You’d have to dial back the clock over two months to find Spurs last away win – against Huddersfield on Sept. 30 – in the top flight.

A confidence surge is precisely what Spurs need going into Saturday’s home match with Stoke. But it won’t be easy. With a win, APOEL could secure a Europa League berth.

Will Mauricio Pochettino tinker with his starting XI

Expect Mauricio Pochettino to experiment with his starting XI when APOEL come calling tomorrow. Spurs first team are visibly tired, devoid of the fluidity we saw earlier in the season. Lacking confidence on both sides of the ball, Harry Kane is Tottenham’s only consistent performer of late.

Kane is on a goal-per-game pace; the Englishman has scored 20 goals in his last 20 outings for club and country. But will Tottenham’s talisman start tomorrow, or will the gaffer decide to rest his biggest attacking threat?

Kane scored his first hat trick of the season in Cyprus in the opening match between these two sides, and Spurs chances of winning tomorrow’s contest take an immediate, and serious, blow if he is rested.

Davinson Sanchez is a certainty on Pochettino’s team sheet. The Colombian is banned for three Premier League matches after elbowing Watford’s Richarlison on Saturday. Otherwise, expect the gaffer to experiment with his starting 11, probably shifting to a back four, either giving Jan Vertonghen or Eric Dier a badly needed rest.

Christian Eriksen has endured a rough patch and I won’t be surprised if the Dane starts from the bench. He has looked withdrawn and physically exhausted in recent matches. Fernando Llorente is desperate for his first goal with his new club, and this match represents the perfect chance for the Spaniard to burst his Tottenham bubble.

While the result will have no bearing on the standings, another poor performance could leave Tottenham completely sullen and forlorn heading into the all-important, frenetic Christmas period.

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It’s a match that means more to Tottenham than the table will have you believe, and the repercussions of a poor performance could have a far-reaching implications.

That’s why you should expect an experimental starting 11 to show the kind of zest and positive intent supporters have come to expect from Tottenham’s current European run.