What To Look for in Tottenham at Royal Antwerp in Europa League

Tottenham. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Royal Antwerp, Tottenham Opponents
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM – OCTOBER 25: Royal Antwerp players celebrate Antwerpen, Belgium. (Photo by Frank Abbeloos/Johan Eyckens/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Royal Antwerp in Excellent Form

Antwerp sits alone in first place in the Belgium First Division A on 20 points after 10 matches. That two points per match average is slightly better than the 1.83 points per match Tottenham currently have in the Premier League as they sit 5th in the table on 11 points after six matches. Even more impressive than the position in the table or points accumulated is the form of Royal Antwerp, which is quite exceptional.

If you include Royal Antwerp’s win last week against Ludogorets in Europa League, The Great Old – Antwerp’s nickname – have won five straight matches in all competitions and are unbeaten in their last seven matches. Antwerp last lost to Charleoi in league on the next to last day of August. Thursday will be one day short of two months since Antwerp has lost, Spurs cannot take them lightly.

Much like Tottenham Antwerp has been scoring goals for fun, last being held to less than 2 goals in that shutout loss to Charleoi in August. Since that loss, The Great Old has scored 20 goals in their last seven games, which averages to more than 2.85 goals per match. Despite Joao’s talk of a five-man defense, Antwerp wins by outscoring opponents.

Antwerp outscores opponents mostly because they have too. While Antwerp has yet to give up more than two goals in a game but they have only kept one clean sheet in 10. That clean sheet was against Gent, also back in August. In all Antwerp has given up 15 goals in 10 games, for a 1.5 average. Of course, a team can live with giving up nearly two goals a match when they score three.

Antwerp Players to Watch

Dieumerci Mbokani and Lior Refaelov lead the line for Antwerp. While both are older strikers at 24, they are both highly active and get off a lot of shots. Both players average more than two shots per match, and both shot at about a 40% accuracy meaning hey will have a shot on a goal, just how many and how good is the question. On dead ball situations Spurs need to be particularly attentive to Simen Juklerod, the midfielder has three goals on only five shots, finding himself on the receiving end of a couple set pieces.

While it is debatable whether Antwerp plays a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2, one thing Joao is 100% right about in his interview is the aggression of Antwerp, who have picked up 20 yellow cards in their 10 games this season. French defender Dylan Batubinsika can a bit aggressive collecting four of those 20 team yellow cards himself and collecting a red already this season. Batubinsika is also second on the team with 10 fouls behind Ritichie De Laet who has 11 fouls and two yellow cards himself. The point is this is going to be a tough, physical match.

NOTE: Batubinsika is likely out as he along with Manuel Benson due to positive Covid-19 tests according to Sporskeeda.com.