Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Miserable Spurs out of Europa League

As soon as Spurs beat Liverpool in last seasons 5th place decider, everyone felt it wasn't really a fight worth fighting for. Europe League has a low reputation and few teams take it seriously.

Harry announced that Tottenham will be focusing on Premier League and that 4th spot for the Champions League, which is, of course, the most prestigious competition on club level. So, Spurs got into Europa League games basically with their reserves and youngsters like Corluka, Bassong, Pienaar, Pavlyuchenko and Carroll, Livermore, Kane, Rose, Fredericks, etc.

They started with a draw against PAOK away from home, which wasn't a big surprise, PAOK has a solid reputation as one of the best football clubs from Greece, but then Tottenham managed to beat Shamrock Rovers at home, which was expected by everyone, and another win came against Rubin at home. With 7 points out of three games, everyone saw Spurs in the second leg.

Then came supposedly the toughest game Spurs had to play, Rubin away in cold Russia. Again, with reserves and youngsters, nobody was making them favorites, and Rubin managed to win the game by 1:0.

So, 4 games, 7 points, not to bad? All that's left is PAOK at home and Shamrock away. Surely everyone expected 2 wins for Spurs, but Greeks came with a surprise, taking the lead very quickly by taking advantage of some poor defending from Gallas and Bassong. Shortly after that, Corluka was caught out of position and PAOK hit Spurs from the counter-attack to double their lead. Disaster for lilywhites.

After some sloppy attacking play from Spurs reserves and Modric, they managed to get a shot on the goal which was deflected by a 17-year old Stafylids, who then saved a goal with his hand. On purpose? Hard to tell. My guess is not, but the referee saw it otherwise. Teenager was shown no mercy. Red card and a penalty for Spurs. Everything turned around so quickly after Modric scored a penalty and looked like Spurs could turn it around with extra player on the pitch. But they seemed highly unmotivated, waiting as long as 80' to make a real chance for them when Defoe scored a goal which was later cancelled due to the tackle Defoe made previously. Very controversial part of the game. Why wouldn't the ref stop the play right away, but then wait for Spurs to score a goal and only then signal a foul.

Spurs continued attacking afterwards, but it clearly wasn't enough to earn them a goal with Greeks having a lot of luck defending themselves. Now they're the leaders of the group with 11 points, right behind them is Rubin with 10, while Spurs are on the 3rd spot with 7 points they earned in the first three games. Rubin has a goal difference of 10:4, while Spurs have 5:4. Only way Spurs are able to get through is for PAOK to beat Rubin at home and Spurs to beat Shamrock away and will have to that with few extra goals in order to have a better goal difference than Rubin. Mission impossible, much?

Nonetheless, Tottenham now has plenty of time to focus on whats really important. Keeping the good form in EPL going. Last season similar things happened. Spurs started of well in domestic league, also did well in CL, and then the form suddenly dropped. They got trashed by Real Madrid 4:0 and made a poor run in EPL, allowing Man City to get ahead and to grab their 4th and then Arsenal's 3rd spot. Lets just hope Harry has learned his lesson and has a trick up his sleeve when the bad form comes, which is certain to hit us at some point.


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