AVB’s men hope to continue their excellent start to the season when they face Sheriff Tiraspol in Thursday’s Europa League action. Andrew Hughes has the team news and betting odds.
Both teams to score @ 11/10
Tottenham to win by 1 @ 13/5
The reigning Moldovan champions, Sheriff Tiraspol have won the competition twelve times in the last thirteen seasons, and are topping the table once again. They were held to a draw by FC Zimbru last weekend, but had won their five league games prior to that by an aggregate score of 22-1. They’ve drawn both of their Europa League games so far, at home to Anzhi Makhachkala and away to Tromso.
Tottenham’s excellent start to the domestic season, which saw them win four of their first five matches, has carried over into their Europa League campaign. Having thrashed Dinamo Tblisi to qualify, they are currently on top of Group K with maximum points, having beaten Tromso 3-0 and enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 away win against Anzhi Makhachkala. Losing to West Ham before the international break was a setback, but they bounced back last weekend, with an excellent 2-0 win at Villa Park.
Sheriff will be without defender Melli, who was sent off against Tromso, but otherwise they are at full strength. Brazilian midfield duo Cadu and Ricardino are both likely to feature, as is big summer signing, striker Ismail Isa.
Tottenham are still missing some key players, most notably, central defender Younes Kaboul, who led the defence in Russia. Danny Rose and Etienne Capoue are also still missing, but Aaron Lennon returned to action against Villa at the weekend, and could get a starting role in Moldova, as Andre Villas-Boas rotates the squad. Jermain Defoe has started both Europa League games and will lead the line again.
Head to Head
These teams have never met before, and Sheriff Tiraspol have not come up against an English team in their limited European campaign so far.
The Moldovans have usually been knocked out in the qualifying stages of the two European competitions, but have twice reached the group stage of the Europa League, and although they have never progressed further, they have claimed some notable scalps in recent years, beating FC Twente and Dinamo Kiev.
Tottenham have some experience of Moldovan opposition. They played FC Zimbru, in the 1999 UEFA Cup, drawing the first leg 0-0 in Chisinau, before winning the return at White Hart Lane 3-0.
On paper, Sheriff Tiraspol are the poorest team in Group K, but they’ve shown plenty of spirit in their two games so far, and their battling draw in Norway, having gone down to ten men, was particularly impressive.
I’m not expecting them to cause an upset: Tottenham are seasoned European travellers and have too much class and depth in their squad to be caught out, but with the visitors likely to rest key players, this could be a tighter affair than the market suggests. Back Yes at 11/10 in the Both Teams To Score market, and Spurs by Exactly 1 at 13/5 in the Winning Margin market.