Panathinaikos v Spurs Preview
Tottenham to dominate out-of-form Greeks

Jermain Defoe

Defoe: can win away

After dominating at home to Lazio without finding a breakthrough, Spurs travel to Greece to face Panathinaikos on Thursday (6pm, BST) hoping for a win to get their Europa League campaign up and running.

Panathinaikos lost 3-0 away to Slovenian side Maribor in the opening round of matches, a result reflective of their poor start to the season.

The Athens giants have won just once in the five Greek league matches they have played to date and are yet to score more than once in any match.

There were reports of boos being aimed in the direction of coach Jesualdo Ferreira and his players in the wake of Panathinaikos’ latest unsatisfactory result, a 0-0 draw at home to Asteras Tripolis on Sunday. Three draws in three home matches was clearly not the start the supporters had been hoping for.

The Olympic Stadium faithful have had to watch on with envy as rivals Olympiakos have won the last two league titles. A potentially unassailable 11 point gap already separates the clubs at this early stage of the 2012/13 season.

The root cause of Panathinaikos’ woes has been their inability to trouble the scoresheet on a regular basis. Three goals in seven matches in all competitions is a terrible record. To make it worse, one of those came from the penalty spot, while the other two were scored by defenders.

With former Liverpool winger Sebastian Leto currently out injured until early next year, Panathinaikos lack their most potent goal scoring threat. Leto scored 15 goals in 17 appearances last season – 28% of the club’s total for the season. New signing Bruno Fornaroli has done little since joining, or indeed in his career to date, to suggest he is likely to provide a similar number.

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Panathinaikos did, to a degree, spread their goals around the squad last season, with 15 different players scoring in the league. But although Toche is capable of matching his double figure total of last season with the right service, there is little in the Greek club’s attack that is likely to worry Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas ahead of the fixture.

Tottenham continued their improving fortunes by finally beating Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1989 this past weekend and with confidence high will travel to Greece with three points very much on their mind.

Villas-Boas has made it clear that he intends to take the Europa League seriously and put out a very strong team against Lazio in the first match of the group stage. Spurs were unable to break through a resilient rearguard action from the Italians but performed well and may even have taken the victory had they not had two goals questionably disallowed.

Because of the distance they will have to travel, the team he puts out against Panathinaikos on Thursday is unlikely to be quite so star-laden, with one eye firmly on Sunday’s home match against Aston Villa. However, Spurs have plenty of good options in reserve.

French international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will come in for Brad Friedel. Michael Dawson could get a run out in central defence. Tom Huddlestone will hope for a chance to prove his worth after a number of substitute cameos in the league, while young winger Andros Townsend will look to crystallise his impressive pre-season form.

The only issue for Villas-Boas lies in electing whether or not to start the in-form Jermain Defoe up front. Defoe has started all six of Tottenham’s Premier League matches and also began the match against Lazio. With Emmanuel Adebayor still struggling with a thigh problem, though, Villas-Boas may not wish to risk Defoe picking up an injury, especially with little striking cover in the squad.

If Defoe is not picked in the starting eleven then it could mean a European outing for Ryan Mason or Jonathan Obika, although the option also exists to employ Clint Dempsey as a striker, a role he performed on occasion at Fulham.

Panathinaikos v Tottenham Betting Tips Conclusion

Regardless of who starts, Tottenham look to have too much for an out-of-form Panathinaikos side who will struggle to pose a threat to the Spurs defence.

  • We therefore suggest backing Tottenham Hotspur to win @ the best price of 6/5 with Stan James.
  • If you are looking for a better return, we would fancy the North London club to keep a clean sheet, so back Tottenham “to win to nil” @ 11/4 with SkyBet.