Our European football scribe gives his view on Tuesday night's Champions League tie between Monaco and Tottenham.
The Champions League is hotting up as teams desperately jostle in the mad scramble for qualification. Group E finally took some shape after the last round of fixtures and Spurs simply need a victory this week to keep their delusions of grandeur alive. They remain curiously unbeaten in the league, despite drawing as many games as they have won. This lack of a killer instinct is concerning considering the gravity of this encounter. Monaco, however, sit atop their group and stand a very real chance of usurping PSG in Ligue A. This is an organised side that has a resurrected striker in the guise of Radamel Falcao - once pantomime failure of English football. How ironic it would be if he was the reason for Spurs’ ultimate exit.
Monaco vs Tottenham Hotspur | Tuesday 22 November | Stade Louis II | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Monaco 15/10 | Draw 22/10 | Tottenham 18/10
Leonardo Jardim’s side had a successful weekend in Ligue A, beating bottom dwelling Lorient 3-0, and in conjunction with Nice, they continue to keep the French top league in a state of healthy competition. They sit atop the group with eight points and know that a point will be enough to see them through. They were actually thoroughly outplayed in London and Spurs only had themselves to blame for losing that one. They will have a few injury concerns this week. Influential holding midfielder Joao Moutinho is out while Almamy Toure and Nabil Dirar are also sidelined.
Radamel Falcao has been in sensational form since returning from injury, scoring six goals in five appearances. The enigmatic striker will look to physically rattle Dier and Verthongen. Moutinho’s absence may necessitate a change in formation as he was fairly integral to their 4-2-3-1 formation.
They may opt for a slightly more traditional 4-4-2 formation, with Lemar and Fabinho likely sitting.
They know that Spurs may have to gamble on occasions and will look to break quickly and exploit the width of the park. They have only lost once in four appearances against Spurs and will be confident of picking off the North-Londoners on the break. Look for Silva to play a vital role in feeding Falcao.
Spurs are desperate and know that anything other than victory could spell elimination. They at least got the taste of overcoming near insurmountable odds this weekend with their miraculous comeback victory over West Ham. Harry Kane has found himself once again firmly ensconced as their number one threat after scoring in two consecutive London derbies. Dele Alli will return to the side after an injury layoff while the immense presence of Toby Alderweireld will still be unavailable.
Despite a positive performance on Saturday, I really doubt that Harry Winks will retain his starting berth. Pochettino will likely start with a traditional 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dembele partnering Wanyama in the middle of the park. However, if desperation calls for it, he may revert to the more dynamic 4-1-4-1 system that has proved problematic in Europe. Leverkusen were able to isolate Wanyama and use his rapacious defensive desire against him, picking him off when out of position.
Verdict: Draw 22/10I think Spurs will throw everything at Monaco, and the French side will clearly miss some of their more abrasive midfield presences. But ultimately I feel that a general European naivety will cost Spurs the win. Assuming that Leverkusen do the business over CSKA, that will see Pochettino’s side eliminated from the competition.
Written by Damian Kayat for @Hollywoodbets