Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Wolfsberger and Tottenham Hotspur, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The match will be played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest due to coronavirus restrictions, while the second leg is still due to go ahead in North London next week.
Jose Mourinho will be after a response from his Tottenham players on the back of their latest setback in the form of a 3-0 loss against Manchester City on Saturday.
The Lilywhites were deservedly beaten by the in-form Premier League leaders and are now six points adrift of the top four in what is turning out to be a disappointing campaign.
However, Spurs have an EFL Cup final showdown with Manchester City to look forward to in April and are also among the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League.
Mourinho’s men finished top of Group J with 13 points from a possible 18 and now have a favourable last-32 tie against a side positioned sixth in the Austrian top flight.
Wolfsberger were runners-up in Group K, finishing above CSKA Moscow and Feyenoord to reach the knockout stages of a major European competition for the first time ever.
That is in stark contrast to Tottenham, who are competing in the Europa League knockout stages for a 10th time alone.
Interestingly, however, Spurs have failed to win the first leg in each of their last seven knockout matches in the competition since beating Inter Milan 3-0 in 2013.
Without any sort of home advantage, Ferdinand Feldhofer will know that his side have a huge task on their hands to take an advantage into the reverse fixture.
Wolfsberger have lost two of their last five matches in all competitions, with both of those defeats coming in the league, though they did see off Admira 2-1 at the weekend.
Still, that is better form than Tottenham have been in over the past month, having lost five of their last six matches. Another defeat here and the pressure will mount on Mourinho.
Wolfsberger Europa League form: DWLLWW
Wolfsberger form (all competitions): DLWWLW
Tottenham Hotspur Europa League form: WLWWDW
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions): LLLWLL
Joe Rodon will also definitely play no part as he was not registered in Tottenham’s Europa League squad.
This game has taken on added importance for Spurs following their latest defeat at the weekend, but Mourinho is still likely to use a number of his fringe players.
Wolfsberger possible starting lineup:
Kofler; Novak, Baumgartner, Lochoshvili, Scherzer; Stratnig; Taferner, Liendl, Sprangler; Vizinger, Joveljic
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Hart; Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Davies; Winks, Sissoko; Bale, Alli, Lucas; Vinicius
We say: Wolfsberger 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Even accounting for Tottenham’s poor form and the changes Mourinho is likely to make, the Premier League side are still huge favourites to advance from this last-32 tie.
Mourinho has won each of his last 12 knockout ties in the UEFA Cup/Europa League and has not lost an away knockout match in the competition since 2002, which is a run we expect to continue on Thursday.
— to www.sportsmole.co.uk