An injury-ravaged Tottenham will hope to edge out Fiorentina in the second leg of their round of 32 Europa League tie at White Hart Lane today.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be coming into this game having succumbed to a 1-0 loss against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup this past weekend, which ended an eight-match unbeaten streak across all competitions for the hosts. And they will be missing yet another key player – Harry Kane – after the English star suffered a broken nose in training, creating a bit more worry for the Argentinian tactician as he is already without the services of Jan Vertonghen, Clinton N’Jie, Tom Carroll and Mousa Dembele. However, first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will be available for selection, and given the importance of this match, he will be expected to start as Tottenham hope to avoid a repeat of last season that saw them tie the first leg 1-1, only to lose the second 2-0.
This time around, though, given that the first leg was played at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, it’s Tottenham with the slight advantage having scored a vital away goal. In addition, the hosts have a good record when it comes to playing Italian sides in London; out of their past six fixtures, they have yet to lose on their home turf (three wins, three draws). And furthermore, their overall home record is quite solid, with six wins and two draws in their past eight games at White Hart Lane: the last side to depart London with a victory in hand was Portuguese outfit Benfica, who defeated them 3-1 during the 2013/2014 Europa League round of 16.
However, Fiorentina, who have won two and drawn the other out of their three road European fixtures this season – scoring eight goals in the process – will be keen on knocking the London side out for the second year running. Although their record in England is not the most remarkable, with two wins, two losses, and one draw thus far, Paulo Sousa’s side will be coming into this game having beaten Atalanta 3-2 to make sure they stay in third spot in Serie A, and have put together a seven-match unbeaten streak across all competitions. And unlike Tottenham, Sousa really has pretty much everyone available for this game, with only Yohan Benalouane being unable to make the trip for today’s clash.
With everything all square at one-one, this looks like it will be a tough match to call. Many have backed Spurs to see off Fiorentina to secure their spot in the round of 16, especially with their excellent form in the Premier League this season and overall past good track record against Italian opposition in London. However, the Viola will surely ask a lot of questions of Tottenham’s strong back-line, and the fact that they have scored eight on the road in just three games is something not to be ignored All in all, expect this one to be a scintillating and tense clash from start to finish, and the only unfortunate thing is that one of these high-flying sides will see their European dreams ended so early at this stage of this tournament.
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