This Thursday marks Spurs’ last group stage game in their Europa League journey this season. Which if they win, means they will top Group J. The reverse fixture between the two resulted in a 1-0 shock win for Antwerp, where Lior Rafaelov scored the only goal of the game on the half-hour mark.
Thursday’s fixture follows Tottenham’s 2-0 win against their North London rivals Arsenal on Sunday, involving another sparkling Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son display. Knockout round qualification has already been achieved, but Jose, who maintains the reputation as a man of perfection, will likely aim to come out as group winners.
Royal Antwerp’s last away European match in England was back in 1994, where they lost to Newcastle 5-2 in the UEFA cup. On the other hand (including qualifiers), none of Spurs’ last 17 European home games have ended in a draw (12W 5L) and they could win their fourth in a row should they beat Royal Antwerp tomorrow.
However, the sixth and final Champions League Gameweek has been played across groups D-H and the five confirmed (so far) third-placed teams that have been eliminated and will be playing in the Europa League Round-of-32 are: Ajax, Krasnodar, Club Brugge, Dynamo Kiev and most noticeably, Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho expressed his dissatisfaction with this rule, where teams in the Champions League, should they be knocked out, can enter another European competition. Talking about his old club Manchester United, he said: “They are one of the top teams. The group was very hard – Paris St-Germain, Manchester and Leipzig, very hard… “of course the level of the competition is going to improve…, but from the sports point of view, I think it’s not fair that a team that doesn’t succeed in one competition drops to another.”
Tanguy Ndombele returns, seen in full training leading up to Thursday’s game. The Frenchman missed the derby because of illness, deciding himself that he was unfit. Mourinho has said that right-back Serge Aurier has a problem, and Erik Lamela is in light training for the first time since he last played against Brighton on November 1st.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will likely sit out Thursday’s game as he is being rested. This decision comes after he has played three straight 90 minutes and over 900 minutes this season, more than any Tottenham player. Carlos Vinicius also returns to the squad.
Predicted XI: Hart, Reguilon, Tanganga, Dier, Doherty, Sissoko, Winks, Ndombele, Bergwijn, Vinicius, Bale.
Written by Benzi Melcer
Edited by Joey Pickthall