White Hart Lane is set to witness Europa League action when Tottenham take on PAOK Salonika in a Group A match, on Wednesday, November 30, 2011. The first leg between the sides, in September, in Greece, ended in a goalless stalemate.
For Spurs to progress beyond the group stage, the game is a must-win; in an earlier game, Harry Redknapp’s side lost 1-0 to Rubin Kazan. Salonika are currently at top of the table followed, in order, by Rubin Kazan and Tottenham, who are both level on points and one point adrift of the leader. Rubin Kazan are expected to beat Shamrock Rovers in the other group A game on Wednesday, an any result other than a win against Salonika could hurt Tottenham’s chances of progressing in the tournament.
Ahead of the game, Redknapp’s plans have suffered a setback, with Pavlyuchenko sustaining an ankle injury and the forward could be replaced by Defoe. Other injury concerns include midfielder Dos Santos’s groin strain, while other midfielders Niko Kranjcar, with a thigh injury, Rose and Huddlestone with ankle injuries add to the team’s selection woes, along with defender Michael Dawson who has an achilles tendon injury.
With a weekend clash in the offing, against Bolton, in the Premier League, Redknapp plans to ring in wholesale changes to the squad for the Europa League clash, and 18-year-old striker Harry Kane, midfielders Jake Livermore, Tom Carroll and Townsend, and defenders Vedran Corluka, William Gallas and Sébastien Bassong are expected to feature in the starting eleven; goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini could feature, ahead of Heurelho Gomes, against PAOK. Established players like Scott Parker, Luka Modric and Emmanuel Adebayor are likely to be rested.
Fortune favoured Tottenham in the first leg in September that PAOK should have won but for a missed penalty by Lino, and another scoring opportunity squandered by Vladimir Ivic whose header in injury time struck the bar.
PAOK will miss the services of striker Vieirinha in Wednesday’s match, after sustaining an arm injury in his side’s 3-0 triumph against Panaitolikos on Sunday.
Tottenham are bookmakers’ favourites to beat PAOK, with odds of 2/5 offered on a Spurs victory, while a PAOK win is quoted at 7/1, with 10/3 odds being offered on a draw.
A draw would be a good result for PAOK, as they would be likely to face a second string Kazan in their last group game, with Kazan expected to have qualified.
Tottenham’s starting eleven in the first leg: Cudicini, Corluka, Livermore, Bassong, Walker, Carroll, Parrett, Dos Santos, Falque, Townsend, Pavlyuchenko
PAOK’s starting eleven in the first leg: Kresic, Etto, Malezas, Balafas, Lino, Vieirinha, Arias, Fotakis, Georgiadis, Salpingidis, Athanasiadis
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.