Rubin Kazan may sound more like the name of the bullied kid from a James Dean film than our next obstacle on the path to European glory but it is indeed they who we play on Thursday night in our third Europa League group game of the campaign.
With this being the first home game where season ticket holders are asked to pay for their seats Spurs are clearly worried about the attendance with full size poster adverts appearing at various London Underground stations. Gareth Bale is prominent and looking like he means business in the picture whilst Jake Livermore lurks behind him as though about to tap his colleague on the shoulder and remind him that he’s probably going to be allowed to stay at home with his X Box for this one despite the implications of the billboard.
So who will play then? I suspect it’ll be a stronger line up than that which took on Shamrock Rovers & PAOK. Kazan have a European record that includes a 2-1 victory a couple of years ago in the Nou Camp so it’s likely that it could be a stiff test for youngster Tom Carroll and all.
Harry’s biggest dilemma is at centre half where he’s unlikely to want to risk either Kaboul or Bassong, his only two fit players in that position. Corluka was injured playing for Croatia, there’s still no sign of Gallas, Ledley’s run of games hit the buffers on Sunday and Huddlestone & Dawson have been under the knife. So who’s left? Erm. Walker might do a job but he also got a knock on Sunday. One of the two first teamers will probably have to play, maybe they’ll do a half each as Dawson and Younes did against Hearts.
Pav, Giovani, Falque and Townsend will be expected to carry the goal threat though Lennon should be there too if he’s anywhere near fit. Defoe may also get an outing. Sandro will hopefully have recovered from his injury and be able to turn out if needed. Danny Rose is fit and should relieve Assou-Ekotto at left back.
Not the most glamorous of Glory Glory Nights perhaps but it’s got the makings of a good game. On paper we are the two teams that are most likely to qualify out of the group so the incentive is there to jostle for position, and (making a huge assumption that finishing top of the group is a good thing) try and avoid the Champions League dropouts in the next phase. COYS.
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