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Spurs Odyssey Preview - K.A.A. Gent v Spurs, 16.02.17

Last season's corresponding game - Fiorentina 1 Spurs 1, 18.02.16
See the current injury list for all Premier League Teams
All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats

Spurs' record in Europe:-
The official crest of Tottenham Hotspur
U.E.F.A Champions League
 P   W   D   L   F - A
18   7   4   7  31 - 25
European Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
8   4   1   3  21 - 13
(Semi-Finalists 1962)
European Cup Winners Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
33  20  5   8  65 - 34
(Winners 1963)
UEFA Cup/Europa League
 P    W   D   L   F - A
138  78  35  25  274-118 
(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)
 The club logo of K.A.A.Gent
P    W   D   L   F - A
197 109 45  43  391-190

Back to Belgium, but first time to Ghent

When K.A.A. Gent drew Spurs in this Europa League Round of 32 tie, their connections were ecstatic, such is the esteem in which our club is held, although part of the reason for such joy was the prospect of playing at Wembley. The two clubs have never met, but of course Spurs have been to Belgium before - most significantly against Anderlecht, who we famously beat in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final. Our last trip to Belgium was not a happy affair, as we lost the away match against Anderlecht 2-1. We did beat the Brussels side at home though, and went on to qualify for the knock-out stages last year. However, it is a fact that Spurs have yet to win a competitive game in Belgium in 4 attempts.

The name of the City of Ghent has an "H" in it, but the name of the club is K.A.A.Gent. They were founded as long ago as 1864 as Gymnastics Association and in 1900 as Football Association. The English translation of the club's name is Royal Athletic Association Ghent. Their nickname is "The Buffalos", hence their logo. Apparently this nickname arises from a visit by Buffalo Bill early in the 20th Century.

Gent have played in Belgium's top league since 1989, and won this League Title for the first (and only time so far) two years ago in the 2014-15 season. That gave them access to the Champions League Group stages for the first time, and they did reach the Round of 16, when they lost on aggregate to Wolfsburg. Last season, they finished third in their domestic league and have had to play in this season's Europa League from the Third Qualifying round. Their path to the Group stage was comfortable, and in Group H they finished second to Shakhtar Donetsk with 8 points. Their two wins came against Turkish side Konyaspor, whilst Shakhtar Donetsk put five goals past them at home and away.

When I had a look at Gent's domestic record early in the New Year, when the Belgium league took a three week winter break, they weren't doing too well losing three consecutive league games plus a cup game. One of those defeats was a 3-2 home defeat by Anderlecht, who are level top of the Belgian league this week, with 52 points from 26 games. Since then, Gent have picked up with two wins,two draws, and a home defeat on Saturday. Our opponents currently lie 8th in the table, with 40 points, so they have a big task to qualify for European football next season.

A January signing for Gent from Swiss club Young Boys is causing a little excitement with goals in his first two games. This is 23 year old Japanese International Yuya Kubo, who did not score on Saturday. Gent's top league scorer with just 6 goals is Frenchman Jeremy Perbet, but he hasn't scored since November. Other goalscorers to look out for are Bosnian wingman Danijel Milicevic, with three goals in his last 6 games (two of those goals in December), and Mali striker Kalifa Coulibaly. However, Gent do not seem to have a lot of goals in them, as they have only managed to score more than once in one of their last 6 games.

Neither Jan Vertonghen or Toby Alderweireld have played any of their professional domestic football for a Belgian team, but Mousa Dembele did spend his first two seasons on the books of GBA. Mousa came on as substitute against Gent in January 2005, but didn't score. One former Spur who played against Gent was Martin Peters, but that was back in 1964 as a West Ham player. The "Hammers" beat Gent 2-1 on aggregate on their way to winning the 1965 Cup Winners' Cup. Martin had the misfortune to score an own goal.

Spurs have sent a strong squad to Belgium, but as anticipated, it does not incude Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, or Erik Lamela. The really good news is that Jan Vertonghen might be ready to figure in our FA Cup tie at Fulham on Sunday, but of course, Pochettino may want to preserve him for the Premier League a week later. No doubt there will be some adjustment to the team for tomorrow night's game, but I do not anticipate any drastic changes. Kieran Trippier is fit and may start. Perhaps Kevin Wimmer will also play. I would also expect Sissoko to start this game, but we will all have to wait until 5pm UK time (6pm CET) for the team news.

I am travelling to Ghent, and I hope to have the post-match survey out within hours of the game. However, my online report will not be available before Friday tea-time. I personally feel confident that I will be reporting a win for Spurs, perhaps by 2-0.

Referee Benoit Bastien and his on-field team are from France. This will be the first time we have met this referee, who has been in charge of 8 European club and International games so far this season.

Reviewing Spurs' last Champions League Season - 2010-11. 6 years ago, Spurs had an historic 1-0 win against AC Milan in the San Siro stadium!

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