Europa League: Who are Sheriff Tiraspol?
A look at Tottenham's next European opponents
FC Sheriff Tiraspol host Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League this week and are in Group K alongside Tromsø and Anzhi Makhachkala. But who are they? I investigate further into the seemingly anonymous team.
First of all, they're from Moldova.They play their home football at the self-named Sheriff Stadium which has a modest capacity of over 14,000.
They could be called somewhat of a top team in Moldova too, having won the Moldovan Premier League (known as the Divizia Naţională) 12 times in the last 13 seasons, which is impressive for a team founded in 1997. They also have a number of other local honours, such as seven Moldovan Cups and five Moldovan Super Cups.
They've been a regular in European competition in recent times too, having reached the Champions League second qualifying round every year between 2001-2009 and then seeing further success in the two seasons between 2009-2011. In the 2009-10 season they reached the group stage play-off but were denied by Greek side Olympiacos. They then dropped into the Europa League of the same year and pulled off a stunning 2-0 victory against Dutch club FC Twente.
The next year, they got to the Champions League group stage play-off round again but were this time denied by Swiss team FC Basel. They then had an unproductive group stage in the Europa League, the highlight of which being a 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.
Since then, until this season, they've failed to qualify for European competition, but after beating Vojvodina 3-2 on aggregate in the play-off, they qualified to join Spurs, Anzhi and Tromsø in Group K.
Sheriff have three notable players (based on their stats for the club). These are Wilfried Balima - a right-midfielder from Burkina Faso - who has 41 goals in 171 appearances for the Moldovans.
Second is the impressively-named Jhulliam Bonfim, a midfielder who has seven goals in nine games for Sheriff. Speaking of danger men, my third notable player is attacking midfielder Cadú. His six goals in nine games highlight him as another potential goal threat.
So there you have it. A relatively new team - the top team in Moldova - on the European Stage against top Premier League opposition. Let's see how they do...
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