Tottenham travel to Greece to play Panathinaikos for the second round of games in this season's UEFA Europa League group stages, with all the confidence from a fantastic 3-2 win over Manchester United. Spurs broke a 23-year winless streak at Old Trafford courtesy two first half goals from Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale and some solid defensive work in the second half. Based on Spurs' recent form, the Greek side will have improve drastically if they hope to gain anything from this game.
Where to Watch Live
Coverage starts at 5.30 pm BST on iTV 4. Live updates can be accessed via Gamecast on Soccernet.
Panathiniakos: The Greeks are struggling... both in Europe and domestically. They have just the one win in five games and were beaten comprehensively - 0-3 - by Slovenian side NK Maribor in the first round of Europa League games. In addition, the controversy surrounding the sacking of the team's captain, Kostas Katsouranis, after the veteran Greek international was hit with a six-match ban for insulting match officials, has done little to provide any sort of stability.
Ferreira will have his hands full with on-pitch matters though. His club has had their worst ever start to the league and have not won a game since August, when they beat Levadiakos 1-0 on the league's opening day. That was preceded by a brief flurry of goals, when they beat Scottish side Motherwell 5-0 on aggregate, in the third round of Champions League qualifying games; they were subsequently beaten 0-2, on aggregate, by Spanish side Malaga.
The good news is, apart from the defeat to Maribor, the club has been defensively decent enough. Panathinaikos have conceded only seven goals, in ten games across all competitions this season, and are yet to lose at home. They come into this game on the back of a 0-0 draw, at home, to Asteras Trip in a league game.
Tottenham: Andre Villas-Boas admitted to being ecstatic with the win against United and will be confident of taking all three points from this game. Spurs have not lost a game since the opening day 1-2 defeat at Newcastle United, and, apart from the draw against Lazio in the first round of games, they have scored in every game this season; they should have scored against the Italians as well but for some dodgy refereeing decisions.
Spurs had a slow start to the season. The defeat to the Magpies was followed by two 1-1 draws at home to West Brom and Norwich. The 3-1 defeat of Reading seemed to kick-start their season though and AVB's men have looked in good form since then; certainly good enough to see of Panathinaikos.
Meanwhile, AVB has also come out defending the value of the UEFA Europa League and insisted he respected the competition, even if former manager Harry Redknapp did not.
"The profile of the competition is raised in other countries, but not England. I don't understand it," the former Chelsea boss said, adding, "I respect the competition. I certainly think it is viewed as a punishment in England and I cannot understand why."
- Last five (most recent first): D D L D D
- Last result: Panathinaikos 0 - 0 Asteras Trip
- Last five (most recent first): W W W D W
- Last result: Manchester United 2 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur
Panathinaikos: The Greeks' biggest loss will definitely be captain Katsouranis. The versatile defensively minded player has loads of experience, both in Europe and for his country. The 33 year old played for Portuguese side Benfica for three years and has 97 caps for Greece.
In the absence of Katsouranis, defensive duties and the charge of leading the team will almost certainly fall to former Newcastle, Juventus and Olympique Lyon man Jean-Alain Bounsong.
Fortunately, there are no other serious concerns for Ferreira and the Portuguese will be desperately hoping the challenge of playing Spurs can force his team to rise to the occasion and kick-start their season. A second defeat like the game against Maribor will almost certainly end the club's European campaign, even at this early stage.
Probable Line-Up: Karnezis; Vyntra, Boumsong, Velázquez, Spyropolous; Zeca, Vitolo, Marinos; Sissoko, Christodoulopoulos, Owusu-Abeyie
Tottenham: AVB is likely to use this match to rotate his squad a little bit and keep key players fresh. Spurs play Aston Villa and then Chelsea, in their first big London derby, on 20 October, and with a round of international games before the visit of the Stamford Bridge clubs also to be considered, juggling of options and giving fringe players a run-out is certainly a sensible idea. However, in line with his comments about respecting the competition, AVB is set to field a strong team.
"For us to go on and eventually win the Champions League we have to get used to playing in these situations, both physically and mentally," he explained, adding, "There is a rotation of players that can happen in certain positions, but I always field the strongest team possible. And that can be a benefit in the learning process."
The big news is Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor returns to training. However, the former Arsenal and Manchester City man is not fit for this game and has not travelled to Greece. He may, however, play some part in Sunday's game against Villa. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Brad Friedel has also not travelled to Greece, meaning there may be a small break in the goalkeeper wars at White Hart Lane. Expect troubled new signing Hugo Lloris to make his second start for Spurs, although given AVB's inclination to mix things up, third-choice keeper Carlo Cudicini may once again get the nod ahead of the French captain.
Other injured players are Kyle Naughton (foot), Jake Livermore (hernia), Younes Kaboul (knee), Scott Parker (Achilles) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), all of whom will be unavailable for this game; Naughton and Livermore, though, may recover in time for Villa's visit.
Vertonghen was in superb form against United. He started from left back and his driving run forward resulted in the first goal. However, with Chelsea to come, he may be rested for this game... particularly since he will feature with his national team in a World Cup qualifying game at Serbia. That could mean the once unwanted Michael Dawson could get a start, probably alongside veteran William Gallas. In midfield, AVB is likely to retain the Sandro and Moussa Dembele pair that started against United. The two were in wonderful form at Old Trafford. New signings Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson will probably join England and Welsh internationals Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale up front.
Probable Line-Up: Lloris; Gallas, Dawson, Walker, Caulker; Sandro, Dembele; Dempsey, Sigurdsson, Bale; Defoe
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