We preview Tuesday night’s crucial Group E Champions League encounter as Tottenham head to Russia to take on CSKA Moscow.
Second place and unbeaten in the Premier League, yet Spurs’ only loss this season came in their opening Champions League fixture. Only one game down in their return to the top echelon of European football, but a 2-0 loss was far from the ideal start against Monaco at Wembley. That blip aside, have looked very sharp all over the pitch of late.
Champions League Form: L (4th position)
In arguably one of tightest Champions League groups to call, CSKA’s opening 2-2 draw away to Bayer Leverkusen (after going 2 down) was a terrific start to their campaign. Much like Tottenham, CSKA is undefeated in the Russian top division and find themselves in second place (5 wins, 3 losses). It’s hard to argue with that form line at all and they have conceded just three goals this season.
Champions League Form: D (2nd position)
Spurs have left the key quartet of Eric Dier, Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko back in London as they all recover from injury. They join Harry Kane on the sidelines. Mauricio Pochettino has suggested that he may start Heung-Min Son up front in place of Janssen, but given the missing alternatives in Russia, we can’t see him going through with it. Both Janssen and Son should start.
Tottenham: Lloris, Davies, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Walker, Wanyama, Alli, Son, Eriksen, Lamela, Janssen,
Unlike Spurs, all of CSKA’s key players are likely to appear with only the dangerous Alan Dzagoev in some doubt. Lacina Traore should start up front with the prolific combination of Roman Eremenko and Dzagoev on the right side of midfield. Highly rated youngster Alexsandr Golovin should also take his place in behind Traore. Igor Akinfeev is a colossal presence in front of goal.
Tottenham will be up against it from the start in this one, with a hostile home crowd of up to 30,000 expected. Just 250 Spurs fans have travelled for the match. Spurs will need to remain calm and show significant poise early to prevent being overwhelmed by the occasion and atmosphere. If they can withhold CSKA in the first 20 minutes to half hour, then they should gradually be able to build into the game and begin to dictate terms. Failure to do so and they will pay dearly, just as against Monaco.
CSKA provide ample threats through the individual brilliance of Traore, Eremenko and Dzagoev. All have score multiple goals this term. But the overall quality of the Tottenham squad, despite the absence of Kane the four that have been left behind, has the potential to overwhelm the home side as the clash progresses. The start will be nothing short of crucial and potentially defining, we may even have a fair idea of the outcome thirty minutes in.
It’s a really tough one to predict, as there are so many unknowns. Ultimately the result should come down to this young Tottenham side’s maturity and how they handle the pressure-cooker environment. It’s a huge challenge and Spurs will rely on their senior players standing up to get something out of the fixture. A win here would potentially be the most crucial 3 points Spurs pick up this season. But we feel the home side may get on the score sheet in the first half before Tottenham come back to earn a draw.
Daily Football Blog Prediction: CSKA Moscow 1 – 1 Tottenham