Tottenham may have fought their way back from 2-0 down to emerge with a 2-2 draw from the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal with Basel at White Hart Lane last week, but it came at considerable cost.
Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas all sustained injuries on the night and will be absent for Thursday’s return leg in Switzerland. Jermain Defoe is also out with a hip problem, although Kyle Walker is back from suspension.
Tottenham also drew 2-2 with Everton on Sunday to concede ground in the battle for a Champions League place, with injuries threatening to derail a season that has often promised so much.
But manager Andre Villas-Boas remains confident that his side can progress to the last four of the Europa League despite giving up those two away goals.
"Basel showed how strong they are -- but so did we,” he said, according to UEFA’s website. “It'll be a tough match but we still believe we can qualify."
And the Portuguese coach, who lifted the trophy two years ago with Porto, believes that there will be plenty of entertainment once again in the second leg.
“We need great organization; we have to give them a lot of credit for their organization,” he added. “The players and coach, everyone did what he was supposed to. Basel are an attacking team and so are we, so we can expect some goals."
While Basel can progress with a goalless draw at St. Jakob-Park, Basel coach Murat Yakin has said that his side won’t be changing their attacking philosophy.
"Our team know how to play at home and how to generate the spirit to play, especially in front of the home crowd," he said. "We want to score goals, that is our aim.”
Basel will be boosted by the return from suspension of Joo-Ho Park, Philipp Degen and Marcelo Diaz. January signing Raul Bobadilla is cup tied.
D: Steinhofer, Schar, Dragovic, Park
M: Elneny, Diaz
Salah, Frei, Stocker
D: Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto
M: Parker, Dembele
Dempsey, Holtby, Sigurdsson
Prediction: Basel’s strong home record in the Europa League -- winning their last four Europa League matches at St. Jakob-Park without conceding a goal -- compares sharply with Tottenham’s failure to win any of their five games on the road in the Europa League this season.
The loss of Gallas, who has been a liability in many of his appearances in the Europa League, should perversely be a boost to Tottenham’s chances of progress. The absence of Bale and Lennon is anything but, however. In a game that they need to score at least once, the loss of Bale’s often inspirational play and the width that Lennon provides is a huge hindrance to Spurs’ chances.
Basel looked extremely impressive at White Hart Lane and appear poised to complete the job back at home.
Basel 1-1 Tottenham
Where to watch: The Europa League quarterfinal second leg will kick-off at 3.05 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream provided by Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.