Tottenham are back in European action tonight, and face a tough game against Champions League evictees Olympique Lyonnais. With the first game at home at White Hart Lane, the English side have a great chance to take the tie by the scruf of the neck before travelling to the Stade de Gerland. An added bonus for the north London side is that their elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of Leeds means that there is no game for Spurs this weekend.
Spurs’ main priority must be a top-four finish in the Premier League and hence a place in next season’s Champions League hat, however continued progression in the second-tier Europa League is seen by many as a blight on their domestic ambitions. Andre Villas-Boas is a known advocate of the Europa League after winning the competition as Porto boss, and has pledged from the start to try to progress in the tournament. Despite this, the inclination to leave key players such as Gareth Bale on the sidelines as to save them for Premier League fixture still exists.
However, with no Premier League fixtures this week due to the FA Cup, Villas-Boas’ men have a full week off before facing Lyon again in France. Instead of fielding a team that is close to its best, the Portuguese trainer would be best advised to start with all the club’s best players, and try to lay a marker in the ground.
Lyon are no soft touch and are an experienced and seasoned European campaigner, despite not being at the powers of their Ligue 1 dominant selves in the 2000’s. The side has quality without, and the visitors will not sit back and soak up pressure but rather look to win the game in England and seal progression next week. Spurs must watch Bafetimbi Gomis carefully; the mobile striker has a goal every other game this season to date. Despite this, Lyon have lost their last two games in France, with a 3-1 reverse against Lille last time out.
Spurs, bouyed on by good recent form, and fielding a strong starting line-up should expect to win the game; one which would be common place should they qualify for the Champions League next term.