Tottenham Hotspur play FC Basel at White Hart Lane in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tonight.
Andre Villas-Boas said to reporters: “We have learnt a lesson”, in response to the narrow and nervous victory against Inter Milan and fans will be hoping the team adhere to his words as Basel are not a team to be taken lightly.
Basel were the conquerors of Manchester United in the Champions League last season, knocking them out in the group stage. They went on to beat eventual finalists Bayern Munich in the first leg of the last-16 tie before, being eliminated.
Whilst they currently top the Swiss league, Basel have also impressed in the Europa League. Victories against Sporting Lisbon and Zenit St. Petersburg will have Spurs approaching their opponents cautiously.
A dominant display at White Hart Lane in the last leg helped them overcome Inter Milan in the last leg and Spurs will be hoping for the same dominance tonight. The Swiss team are a stuttering side away from home so Spurs will have to take advantage of their travel sickness.
Yet AVB still faces a conundrum in attack. Jermain Defoe is injured and likely to miss the next three games with a groin injury.
This leaves Spurs with few options. Most likely of these will be Adebayor leading the line. The Togo international has been out-of-form this season, scoring only four goals.
Recently though, he has clearly been working harder - linking up with midfielders and getting into good positions, as seen in the Swansea game.
A goal tonight will help to boost his confidence.
As Defoe’s injury echoes the sound of a closing door, Clint Dempsey’s return emulates the light of a door just opened. The American has recovered from a calf injury and is in contention to face Basel after playing for the United States. The third and final option for Tottenham is playing the club’s top scorer this season, Gareth Bale, in a striking role.
AVB said: "You have seen us play with Dempsey and Bale up front and we have had periods in the season when our strikers have been injured and we have coped with it. With his run of form, as a striker he is most effective.”
This is a possibility that could create a new and exciting structure in the team. Even without Dempsey, Spurs have another option in Lewis Holtby to fill in behind the striker. More game time for the German will be hugely beneficial for the string of tough upcoming matches. Introducing him around the 70 minute mark is not allowing him enough time to unleash the full force of the creative prowess we only see glimpses of in the closing stages of a game.
Brad Friedel will retain his Europa League place even though Hugo Lloris has shaken off the knee injury he sustained whilst on international duty for France.
William Gallas is likely to partner Jan Vertonghen in defence, though the Frenchman must find some solid consistency at the back after a precarious game against Inter.
Spurs are just four wins away from the final in Amsterdam now and with the home advantage tonight you would expect them to take control of the first leg and come away with a victory.
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