Tottenham Hotspur Drawn Against Wolfsberger in Europa League

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Harry Winks of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring November 26, 2020 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Harry Winks of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring November 26, 2020 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur learned their next step in the European journey will take them back to Austria, as Spurs were drawn against Wolfsberger AC.

The was not much drama or intrigue for Tottenham Hotspur Monday once the Round of 32 draw began. In fact if you are a Spurs fan and were late to the draw, you probably missed the moment Tottenham paper was unfolded. Spurs were the first ‘seeded’ team drawn in the competition and face ‘unseeded’ Wolfsberger who were the first team drawn for the round. In the next few paragraphs we will look at who Wolfsberger is, if this is a good draw for Spurs, and see how the other English participants fared. We start with a look at Wolfsberger.

Who are Wolfsberger AC

Wolfsberger AC are a football club from Wolfsberg, Austria, currently in the topflight Austrian Bundesliga. Wolfsberger automatically qualified for Europa League by virtue of a 3rd place finish in the 2019-20 Bundesliga season. The qualification marked the second straight season Wolfsberger qualified for the European competition.

After being eliminated in the Group Stage round in 2019-20, Wolfsberger advanced for the first time ever to the Round of 32 by finishing second in Group K on 10 points behind Dinamo Zagreb. Wolfsberger won three, drew one, and lost two during the group play. The two losses were both to group winner Dinamo Zagreb. Wolfsberger beat Feyenoord twice and beat CSKA Moscow once on day 5 after drawing with CSKA on matchday 1.

Four of Wolfsberger’s six matches were decided by only 1 goal in 1-nil affairs. Their defense was stout throughout the competition conceding only six goals in six matches, despite giving up three to Dinamo on matchday 4. However, since giving up those three goals to Dinamo, Wolfsberger has kept two clean sheets and gained the six points necessary to advance.

A Decent Draw for Spurs

Despite advancing in Europa League, Wolfsberger are struggling a bit this season in the Bundesliga. Wolfsberger currently sit 7th in the league with 5 losses from 10 matches and a -3 goal differential. This record is the result of two different teams for Wolfsberger this season, the team when they play at home and the team when they are on the road.

When Wolfsberger has been the home team they have been terrible and are currently last in the league home table on 4 points through 5 matches with -4 goal differential. However, if you look at the away table, you see Wolfsberger in the top 5 with 9 points from 5 matches and a positive goal difference.

What this means is that Tottenham, who have really struggled on the road in Europe at times this season better not struggle at Wolfsberger, because the team is much better away from home. If Tottenham start to think they can rely on a big victory at home, they may have already lost the tie. However, if they maintain the one game at a time mentality and bring their Premier League road form into Europe, Spurs should make hay in Austria and advance.

As you look across the draw, getting a team making their first ever appearance in the Round of 32 that is struggling for form in domestic action is about as good as Tottenham could have hoped for. Given some of the draws seen elsewhere, Tottenham should be happy and hungry for February and Europa League. Not only that but the social media team at Wolfsberger is already ready for the matchup, which should help make this a fun tie.

The Draw for Other English Teams

As far as the draw and the four English teams are concerned, there are two teams that feel pretty good and two that maybe are not quite as happy. As noted, Tottenham should feel decent about their draw, as Wolfsberger is no minnow, but they are no piranha either. Likewise, Leicester City is likely feeling okay about their matchup with SK Slavia Praha.

Slavia Praha are no pushover themselves as the top team at current in the Czech Republic First League, but they, like Wolfsberger are not quite at the caliber of the draw opponents of Arsenal or Manchester United.  The Czech league, like the Austrian league, are just not at the level of the leagues where Arsenal and Manchester United’s opponents hail from. Frankly, I imagine many fans of the two clubs feel kind of hard done from the draw.

Despite Real Sociedad finishing 2nd in Group F with just 9 points qualifying on matchday 6, Manchester United cannot be excited about the draw. In many seasons one might think this is a Premier League powerhouse against a midtable team from La Liga, but that is not quite the case this year. Sociedad are the current leaders of La Liga tied with Atletico Madrid on 26 points and ahead of traditional powers Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Of course, games in hand have a bit to do with some of the differences in the table, but that is to take nothing away from Real Sociedad who – like Tottenham Hotspur – are trying to upend the normal order in the league.

Arsenal drew Portuguese giant Benfica and a date with former Tottenham Hotspur Jan Vertonghen. Benfica are currently second in the Portuguese First Division just two points behind Sporting Club. Benfica finished second in Group D on 12 points 2 behind Rangers, but never lost a match, winning 3 and drawing 3.

While we do want to see other English teams do well in the competition – to a point – to improve the Nation’s coefficient rating with UEFA but certainly do not feel bad for United or Arsenal. The good news is that between the two draws, regardless of who advances, one of the other ‘favorites’ for the tournament will be eliminated.

As for Tottenham, it is about the games between now and February first, but the time will come when Wolfsberger will be the game to focus on. If you want to see complete draw results, you can get them here from UEFA.