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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Crvena zvezda, 22.10.19

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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
40 17   9  14  72 - 61

(Finalists 2019)
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
140  78  36  26  276-121 
(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)
The club logo of Crvena zvezda
P    W   D   L   F - A
221 119 51  51  434-229

Champions League Group B

                   P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  Pts
1. Bayern Munich   2  2  0  0 10-2  +8   6
2. Crvena zvezda   2  1  0  1  3-4  -1   3
3. Olympiacos      2  0  1  1  3-5  -2   1
4. Spurs           2  0  1  1  4-9  -5   1         

Lo Celso to play tomorrow?

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino indicated at the end of his press conference that one of Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon would be involved in tomorrow's Champions League matchday three game. Both returned to full training last week. We have had glimpses of the creative skills offered by Giovani Lo Celso but his presence tomorrow could be just the inspiration to kick-start Spurs' season. I'd love to see Ryan Sessegnon involved too. Christian Eriksen may also return, as he has returned to full training following his dead leg issue. Son Heung-min must start, after only playing the second half of Saturday's Watford game.

Crvena zvezda (known in English as Red Star Belgrade) is the most famous Serbian club, and is the only club from Eastern Europe to have won both the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup (recognised in 2017 by FIFA as having equal status to the FIFA Club World Championship. Red Star won the European Cup in 1991 beating Marseilles on penalties. They were runners-up in the 1979 UEFA Cup Final, losing to Borussia Monchengladbach. Their Rajko Mitic stadium was named after one of the most important players in the history of Red Star Belgrade in 2014. Mitic was a famous footballer, coach, executive and journalist.

Crvena zvezda have won many domestic competitions and are the current Serbian SuperLiga Champions. Despite that, they had to enter the first qualifying round of this year's Champions League, as they did last year. They beat Copenhagen on penalties in the third qualifying round and Young Boys on away goals after two drawn games. Crvena zvezda lost 3-0 in Munich on Matchday 1, but beat Olympiacos 3-1 while we were losing 7-2 in the last champions League game. We could do with winning our next three games before we travel Munich on Matchday 6 in December.

Beating the Serbian club won't be easy though, and the atmosphere will be strange as Red Star have been punished by UEFA and are not allowed to bring their fans to Tottenham, although there will be various representatives of the club in the main stand of course. Red Star fans were also banned from Anfield last year, but that was over disturbances at porevious games. This year the ban follows evidence of racist chanting. Our return trip to Belgrade should be interesting.

Red Star have one slight advantage over us. Their weekend game was played on Friday night when they won 3-1 at home. Our guests top their league with 30 points from 11 games. Don't forget too that this team gave eventual Champions League winners Liverpool a nasty shock in Belgrade last year winning 2-0 at home. Pavkov scored both their goals, and scored one of their goals in last Friday's game. Pavkov is Red Star's top league scorer, despite starting only 5 of those 11 games. Red Star met Liverpool on Matchdays 3 and 4 last year and played at Anfield first, losing 4-0. We must hope for a similar result tomorrow, but of course not defeat for us in two weeks' time.

Midfielder Veljko Simic has not started many of Red Star's recent league games, but scored 4 goals in one game recently. This was a Cup game in which our visitors beat FK Trepca 8-0! Marko Marin (now 30) is the club captain. We first met him in our very first Champions League group game in September 2010 when he played for Werder Bremen. Marin is a German national and last played for Germany in November 2010. He was on Chelsea's books for 4 years but never played for them against Spurs, and spent most of the time on loan.

Spurs have announced that the club will be remembering Goran Bunjevcevic at half-time tomorrow. "Bunjee" as we fans affectionately knew him very tragically died at just 45 years of age in June last year. Spurs signed him from Red Star in 2001, and ultimately returned to the Belgrade club as sporting director. In the years before he passed away Goran held an administrative post with the Football Association of Serbia. I remember him as a loyal mentor of our reserve side towards the end of his brief Spurs career. Goran's wife and daughter will be at the game, and Darren Anderton will pay tribute.

You might remember that in my Olympiacos preview I told you that the "only other time we faced Olympiacos (the Greek spelling is Olympiakos) was in the UEFA Cup second round in 1972, when we won 4-0 at home with goals by Jimmy Pearce (2), Martin Chivers and Ralph Coates. We lost the away leg 1-0, but the tie had been won. By coincidence, in the next round in 1972, we played Red Star Belgrade, and beat them on aggregate 2-1. Ultimately that season we were knocked out (we were defending UEFA Cup holders remember) by Liverpool in the semi-final. There is a certain symmetry here, I think."

Martin Chivers and Alan Gilzean scored our goals in a 2-0 home win, but we lost the away game 1-0. That is the only time we have played Red Star in a competitive game. The Spurs team for the home win was Jennings; Evans, Knowles, Pratt, England, Naylor, Gilzean, Perryman, Chivers, Peters, Pearce. Joe Kinnear replaced Terry Naylor and Ralph Coates replaced "Gilly" in the second leg.

We have played other Belgrade teams in competition. The first was OFK Belgrade in the two leg semi final of the successful (and historic) 1963 European Cup Winners Cup campaign. We played away first, winning 2-1 with goals by John White and Terry Dyson. In a hot-tempered game Jimmy Greaves was sent off, but we won the home leg 3-1 with goals by Cliff Jones, Dave Mackay and Bobby Smith.

In the group Stage of the 2014-15 Europa League we played FK Partizan, drawing the away game 0-0 and winning 1-0 at home with a goal by Benjamin Stambouli. This was Stambouli's only goal for Tottenham in his brief stay. He has since played for PSG, and currently plays for Schalke.

We have also played another side from the old Yugoslavia - Hadjuk Split, who are now based in Croatia. All meetings took place over two legs. Two ties were in the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1967 and 1991, when were successful in both. The other was in 1984 in the UEFA Cup semi-final, when of course we beat Anderlacht in that famous final!

Dare I predict a home win tomorrow? Well, of course I must, and the team must win to have a genuine chance of progressing beyond the group phase of this year's competition. I'll be cautious and say 2-0!

Italian referee Marco Guida is a new face for us in the middle. All the officials are from Italy, including VAR Gianluca Rocchi, who was in charge for our game against Olympiacos in September. Signor Guida recently refereed the England home game against Bulgaria in which Spurs and England captain Harry Kane scored a hat-trick including two penalties. A repeat would be nice, to say the least!

"It was Twenty Years Ago Today!" - Well, actually on October 23rd, 1999 Stephen Carr scored a cracking goal in a 3-1 win over triple-winners Manchester United!

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