Match Preview: RZ Pellets WAC v Spurs (let us go for it!)
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, at17:55 on Wednesday.
After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton, this match takes on added importance. We need to win this match and progress – if possible – to the final (I am being optimistic here!). If we should win that final, then we are in the European Champions League. At the moment there doesn’t seem much chance of getting there by gaining a top-four spot, but still early days.
Giovani Lo Celso is still missing with a hamstring injury, while full-backs Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon are doubtful. Joe Rodon will also definitely play no part as he was not registered in Tottenham’s Europa League squad.
There could be starts for Carlos Vinicius, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli, the latter of whom has not started a game since January 10.
Jose Mourinho says his first-choice keeper Hugo Lloris retains his full backing despite recent errors. Joe Hart is expected to return as Mourinho rotates his squad for our Europa League last-32 first-leg tie with Wolfsberger in Budapest.
My thoughts and prediction
We have lost five of our past six games in all competitions, and have conceded eight in the past two outings. Putting that to all one side, I believe we are 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 I expect to continue on Thursday.
My predicted – possible – starting lineup:
Hart; Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Davies; Winks, Sissoko; Bale, Alli, Lucas; Vinicius
My Prediction; 1-4
As for Wolfsberger, well this is their first knockout match in major European football. Their manager is Ferdinand Feldhofer, the former Sturm Graz defender, and their squad includes Michael Liendl, who scored a Europa League hat-trick against Feyenoord on October 29. Wolfsberger advanced to this stage after finishing runners-up in Group K behind Dinamo Zagreb but ahead of Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow.
They are Dennis Cirkin, Dane Scarlett, Marcel Lavinier and Jamie Bowden.
We are unbeaten in all six of our European matches (including qualifiers) against Austrian sides, winning once and drawing once with LASK in the group stages this season.
We are featuring in our10th different Europa League knockout tie, though we’ve failed to win the first leg in each of our past seven knockout matches in the competition since a 3-0 first-leg win over Inter Milan in the 2012-13 last 16.
Including finals, Jose Mourinho has won each of his past 12 knockout ties in the Uefa Cup/Europa League (all seven in 2002-03 with Porto and all five in 2016-17 with Manchester United) and has not lost an away knockout match in the competition since December 2002, losing 1-0 at Lens with Porto.
Wolfsberger Europa League form: DWLLWW
Wolfsberger form (all competitions): DLWWLW
Tottenham Hotspur Europa League form: WLWWDW
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions): LLLWLL
Well folks, let us hope we get back on track and win this game and start climbing back up the greasy pole.
Take care and all the best, Glenn