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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v PAOK, 30.11.11

PAOK 0 Spurs 0 - 15.09.11
Spurs Odyssey preview of the away match against PAOK
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Spurs record in Europe:-
The official crest of Tottenham Hotspur
U.E.F.A Champions League
 P   W   D   L   F - A
12   5   3   4  25 -19
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
92 54  22  16  191-73 
(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)
P    W   D   L   F - A
145 83  31  31  302-139 
The official logo of PAOK

PAOK Europa League Group A Results:-

PAOK     0-0   Spurs
Rubin    2-2   PAOK
PAOK     2-1   Shamrock
Shamrock 1-3   PAOK

Europa League Group A
		   P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  PTS
1. PAOK            4  2  2  0  7-4   3   8
2. Rubin Kazan     4  2  1  1  6-3   3   7
3. Spurs           4  2  1  1  4-2   2   7
4. Shamrock Rovers 4  0  0  4  3-11 -8   0     

How much do we want this?

With Rubin Kazan at home to Shamrock Rovers tomorrow night, and away to PAOK in the last round of Group A, Spurs really have to win to put themselves in the best position to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League. A draw would leave us sweating on the PAOK v Rubin result, and of course would have to win in Dublin. We don't really want to sweat over this matter, do we?

There are a couple of imponderable thoughts though going into this game. We don't know just how much Spurs really want to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League which would put pressure on our league form, and the definite desire to qualify for next season's Champions League. My guess is that Spurs do have the necessary desire, and that they will put out a team with the clear ability to win this game. I'd like us to start practising in earnest for playing two important games a week next season too!

The next question is just how strong will our team be? We have no travel involved, and it's Bolton at home on Saturday. Judging by our bench at West Brom, one or two of our second team were not available, such as Giovani and Pavlyuchenko. There have also been quotes ascribed to Vedran Corluka this week, who it appears will be wanting to move on in January, as he has conceded that Kyle Walker has first choice on his right back position.

A possible Spurs team for tomorrow is:- Cudicini, Corluka, Bassong, Gallas, Townsend, Carroll, Sandro, Livermore, Pienaar, Kane, Defoe

PAOK's desire to win will not be in question, although their form has been quite patchy since we last met in "The Black Hell" in September (PAOK 0 Spurs 0 - 15th September, 2011). The Greek team remain in fifth place in their league and have won 3, drawn 3, and lost 3 in the 9 league games they have played since. Their last two games have been at home. On 20th November, they beat Panaitolikos 3-0, but last Saturday could only draw 0-0 at home to bottom three side Kerkyra. Their team looked a little different from that we played away, but still included their front runners Vieirinha, Fotakis and Athanasiadis. The Portuguese Vieirinha remains PAOK's top scorer, but his last two goals have been penalties, and they have come in his last 5 games.

Although we drew our away game against PAOK (the Greeks pronounce this as one word - POWK - and not by abbreviation), we were grateful for a great performance by Carlo Cudicini in goal, and to the woodwork in the closing stages. Our young team did themselves and the club proud in gaining a point in the cauldron in Salonika.

The atmosphere won't be as hot at The Lane as it was in Greece, but Spurs have stopped selling tickets, not because the game has sold out, but because of "security and safety" issues, which means that loads of London-based Greek fans have got hold of tickets. When we played Wisla Krakow three years ago ((Spurs 2 Wisla Krakow 1 - 18.09.08), we had a similar situation, with Polish fans all over the ground. Fulham had the same experience two weeks ago!

It's hard to surmise the team we put out, and still early for team news, but I'll guess we will field a stronger than usual team for this competition, and win 3-1.

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