FC Twente v Tottenham: Spurs target top of Group A
Harry set to freshen up his side for Tottenham’s final Champions League group game in Holland
WITH qualification for the knock-out stages already secured and champions Chelsea up next this weekend, Spurs might be forgiven if their focus remained in London rather than on tonight’s tie with FC Twente.
However, such an attitude appears to have been lost on a Spurs side that have made the transition from Champions League wannabes to contenders with relative ease.
The two-part ‘Gareth Bale show’, that featured the strange paradox of a winning feeling from the loss at the San Siro as well as the scintillating victory at the Lane against reigning European Champions Inter Milan, has generated speculation that Spurs are among the favorites to win the competition.
The manager however, has been coy about his sides growing reputation on the continent, reflecting that in this competition his ambition is simply to “keep it going as long as we can.”
Keeping the reigns on the hype and bringing a sense of realism to this odyssey is a shrewd move and typical of the no-nonsense Redknapp.
This workman-like approach has not been lost on star man Luka Modric whose outlook that, “We just need to carry on, try and beat Twente and finish first in the group” represented a sense of pragmatic determination, suggesting genuine ambition in Europe.
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He continued: “We just go onto the pitch with confidence, big belief and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing so well at the moment.
“We know it’s not easy, but it’s important to try to finish first.”
If Tottenham are to do this and maximize their chances of avoiding Europe’s big guns in the next round, they will have to do it without several of their mainstays.
Rafa van der Vaart (hamstring) and Younes Kaboul (hip) are both out while Modric himself is unlikely to feature as he has been suffering from a bought of flu, but has made the trip.
Elsewhere, Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas look set to figure. For Keane especially, tonight’s fixture could be a last audition to prove his worth as the January transfer window looms.
In Redknapp’s pre-match conference he hinted, “I might just make one or two changes.
“We’ve one or two players who are desperate to play and have been unlucky not to play.”
Twente meanwhile have already consolidated third position regardless of tonight’s result and with it will be entered into the Europa League.
Currently joint top of the Eredivisie and eager to get back into next seasons Champions league, motivation for this fixture could well be absent.
Nevertheless team news includes the improbable inclusion of Rasmus Bengtsson who started at the weekend against NEC after returning from injury.
Otherwise the long term injuries of Bryan Ruiz, Emir Bajrami and Nicky Kuiper keep them out for sure.