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Spurs Odyssey Europa League Preview - Spurs v Tromso, 19.09.13

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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
108  61  29  18  223-89 
(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)
P    W   D   L   F - A
161 90  38  33  334-155
The club logo of Tromso Idrettslag     
A chance for Defoe to shine

There have been reports in some of today's papers that Jermain Defoe has been upset at the way that Emmanuel Adebayor has been confined to training with the reserves, following his late return to Tottenham (with permission) due to the sad death of his brother. I think the press has been keen to display a negative stance in their reporting of this story, where the main focus really should be on Defoe's keen-ness to win his place back at Tottenham.

Jermain clearly recognises the ability and profile of Spurs' new number one striker, Roberto Soldado, and will want to stamp as many reminders as possible about his goal-scoring prowess upon the head coach's mind tomorrow night. He did himself no harm of course in the 3-0 second leg win over Dinamo Tbilisi three weeks ago, when he scored his only two goals of the season so far.

Jermain was one of our seven substitutes last Saturday against Norwich, all of whom may start this game, bearing in mind the low threat of the opposition, and the high profile Premier League game at Cardiff on Sunday.

We know Andre Villas-Boas likes to field a strong team, even in the Europa League, but I suspect we will see a similar team play tomorrow and next Tuesday at Villa Park, when we have a Capital One Cup game.

So, Friedel, Naughton, Kaboul, Sandro, Holtby, Lamela and Defoe could form the core of tomorrow night's team. Andros Townsend went off after 70 minutes against Norwich and may be required tomorrow. Eriksen played two 90 minute Internationals for Denmark in the recent break, so may be held back for Sunday's game. I do not know whether or not Vlad Chiriches' work permit has been finalised yet, but this could be a good game for him to be introduced. Remember that he and Lamela have different numbers allocated to them for Europa League matches (12 & 33 respectively). We do know that Nacer Chadli (muscle strain), Aaron Lennon (foot), and Etienne Capoue (ankle) remain absent through injury.

I am not going to guess at the full team, but whoever plays really should be far too strong for a team that strictly speaking should not be in this phase of the competition. Tromso actually lost the play-off round tie to Besiktas, but because the Turkish team are one of those banned from European competition for the rest of this season due to financial irregularities, it is the northern-most top tier side in the world that we are playing.

Tromso's full club name is Tromso Idrettslag, or Tromso IL for short. They have appeared in European competition several times, but as they finished fourth in their league last season, they actually qualified for the Europa League through the fair play league.

Tromso's form so far this season has not been good. They currently sit in 13th place in their 16 team league, so they are currently only five points clear of the relegation zone, with seven games of their season remaining. Even in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League they have been un-convincing. They lost at home to Slovenian team Celje (currently 8th out of 10 in their league), but did win the away leg to get through. Then they played Inter from Azerbaijan, who are currently bottom of their league. The aggregate score was 2-1, with Tromso managing to lose the away leg 1-0.

Next up for Tromso was a team from Luxembourg, with whom they drew 1-1, but won on penalties. Finally came the game against Besiktas, who Tromso dod beat at home 2-1, but lost the away game 2-0.

Tromso did beat Rosenborg (Steffen Iversen's old team) 1-0 on Sunday, but that was their first league win since 23rd June (and they do play every week!) in 10 games.

We've never played Tromso before, and indeed the only time we have met Norwegian opposition was in 1972, when as holders of the UEFA Cup, we faced Lyn Oslo in the first round, beating them 6-3 away and 6-0 at home.

One of Tromso's most famous occasions when in October 1997, they actually beat Chelsea 3-2 at home in wintry conditions (we have to travel to this near Arctic region in late November), but Chelsea won the return game 7-1 to make it 9-4 on aggregate.

For all their moderate form, Tromso do not often concede more than two goals, and this has happened three times this season, which started for them in March. Not that I (or more importantly AVB) am under-estimating them, I fancy Spurs to be the first team to put 4 or more goals past them this term, and Jermain Defoe to get a hat-trick! I'll say 4-0.

The officials for this game (and the "additional assistants" will be deployed now we are in the group stage) are all from the Czech Republic. The referee will be Mr. Libor Kovarik.

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