Spurs travel to Rome to face Lazio on Thursday (6pm GMT, live on ITV4) hoping to take a big step towards the Europa League knockout stages.
Lazio currently lead Group J with eight points from the four matches played. Tottenham Hotspur are second on six points, Maribor third on four and Panathinaikos bottom with just two points to their name.
A draw in Rome would mean that regardless of results elsewhere, a win at home to Panathinaikos in their last group stage match would see Tottenham through to the final 32. Progression can be confirmed on Thursday if they go one better and take all three points.
Spurs and Lazio played out a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane in September, a match in which the home side performed well without quite managing to get the goal that their build-up play and overall dominance merited.
Lazio were content to sit back, soak up the pressure and break when possible, striking the crossbar through Alvaro Gonzalez with their best effort on goal.
After also drawing the next two matches, Spurs finally recorded a victory last time out, winning 3-1 at home to Maribor courtesy of a Jermain Defoe hat-trick. There was greater zip to their performance. The ball was moved quicker and more incisively than in previous Europa League matches.
Spurs coach Andre Villas-Boas has tended to put out strong teams in this competition and is likely to do so once more on Thursday. A winner of the competition in his time at Porto, he has treated it far more seriously than his predecessor Harry Redknapp, who appeared to see it as little more than an annoyance.
Emmanuel Adebayor is likely to start up front due to his impending Premier League suspension in wake of his red card in the 5-2 loss to Arsenal in the North London derby at the weekend. That loss was Tottenham’s fourth in their last five matches in all competitions, a run Villas-Boas will be keen to bring to an end as soon as possible.
The imminent return from injury of Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele will give Villas-Boas hope that better times are just around the corner. Spurs won all four of the league matches Dembele started before picking up a hip injury, largely because of the strong, dynamic central midfield partnership he struck up with the Brazilian Sandro. Villas-Boas has rated Dembele as 50/50 to take part, although he will probably start on the bench even if he is passed fit.
Lazio’s form has dipped a little in comparison to their strong start to the season, but they are still fifth in Serie A and come into the match against Spurs having defeated Roma and drawn away to Juventus in their last two league fixtures. They are undefeated in the Europa League and have won both of their home matches.
Bosnian coach Vladimir Petkovic usually employs a 4-5-1 formation, relying on the creative talents of Brazilian central midfielder Hernanes and the wing play of Antonio Candreva and Stefano Mauri to create chances for prolific German striker Miroslav Klose, who has eight goals to his credit thus far.
Lazio have not been particularly solid defensively in domestic action, conceding 17 times in 13 matches. They did hold Juventus to a goalless draw on Saturday and have kept three clean sheets in their four Europa League group stage fixtures, including in both of their home matches. Spurs saw how frustrating Lazio can be to break down in the first meeting between the sides.
Petkovic has generally sent out quite strong teams in the Europa League, but will definitely be without first choice defender Andre Dias and experienced midfielder Cristian Brocchi. With Lazio’s next league engagement not until next Tuesday, star men Hernanes and Klose can both be expected to start.
Lazio v Spurs Betting Tips
Two draws from their final matches will be enough for Lazio to progress to the knockout stages and with Spurs likely to be content to come away from Rome with a point we think a draw is the most probable outcome.
- Bet on the draw @ 12/5 with Betfred.
- Lazio are yet to concede at home in the Europa League this season, while Spurs have only scored once in each of their away matches in the competition. This is likely to be a cagey affair and we therefore believe it wise to back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 4/5 with BetVictor or Ladbrokes.