COMPETITION Europa League Group C
DATE Thursday 11th December 2014
VENUE Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul






The final match of the group sees Spurs and Besiktas battle it out for top spot, which might determine who gets the easier match and home advantage in the second leg.

Both clubs are unbeaten, with Spurs leading by two points thanks to Asteras holding Besiktas to a draw last time out, with Spurs beating Partizan Belgrade.  A draw will be enough for Spurs, while the Turkish side need to win to finish top.

Besiktas will be without striker Demba Ba, who is a big physical presence, but we saw in the first game against them that they have a good attacking style and can get players up in support or into the box from midfield and even further back.  Spurs should use the match to show that they can go on to better things in this competition, because after this match, the level of opposition increases in quality.  With Champions League dropping into the competition, there could be some very tricky games coming up.

With a number of first team regulars being left at home and Adebayor being given special leave to go to Togo, Spurs may not have enough players who have played together regularly to have the inherent understanding of each other's game to be able to produce a fluent performance.  Some players need playing time, some need a goal and some will be trying to convince Poch that they deserve a place in the first eleven.  Hopefully, they will show some sign of this and not just stroll through the match as though there is nothing to be gained from it.

A top of the group placing will enhance our UEFA quotient and get us a game against a lower ranked team left in the Europa League with the second leg at home.  On top of that it will help Spurs get on board with Poch's way of playing and that is perhaps the most important thing to be gained if Tottenham want long term success.

PREDICTION Besiktas    1         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Emmanuel Adebayor has been allowed to return home to Togo on a personal mater, but Kyle Walker returns to the squad and might start his first match in nine months. 
Ryan Mason, Harry Kane, Kyle Naughton, Jan Vertonghen, Nabil Bentlaeb and Christian Eriksen have all remained in England for the match, as Mauricio Pochettino looks  to shuffle his squad.

ITV 4 - 19:00 (live)

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Besiktas  1 (0)                                                                       Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)
Europa League  Group C
Thursday 11th December 2014                                                                                   Kick off 18:05 (UK time)
Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul
Tosun  59m 13s
Gulum (shirt pull on Soldado) 21





Crowd :   , Weather :  Chilly
Referee :  Steffen Johannesson (SWE) Assistant Referees :  Fredrik Nilsson; Daniel Gustavsson (SWE)
Fourth Official :  Magnus Sjoblom (SWE) Additional Assistants : Andreas Ekberg; Mohammed Al-Hakim ;(SWE)
Besiktas kicked off in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Besiktas : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
29  Tolga ZENGIN  (c)

  2  Serdar KURTULUS
22  Ersan GULUM       (33  NUKAN 46)
31  Ramon de Morais MOTTA

20  Necip UYSAL
  7  Gokan TORE  (  3  Ismail KOYBASI 84)
  5  SOSA
21  Karim FREI (14  Furkan YAMAN 93)

10  Olcay SAHAN

  Cenk TOSUN 

Unused subs: 
99  Emre METIN
  Tugay KAYA


  13  Michel VORM

  2  Kyle WALKER (29 Etienne CAPOUE 76)
  4  Younes KABOUL (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

19  Mousa DEMBELE
25  Benjamin STAMBOULI

17  Andros TOWNSEND
  8  PAULINHO (  7 Aaron LENNON 70)

22  Nacer CHADLI

  9  Roberto SOLDADO (11 Erik LAMELA 69)

Unused subs: 
  1  Hugo LLORIS
Federico FAZIO
33  Ben DAVIES
47  Josh ONOMAH

Manager :  Slaven Bilic Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Vodafone Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Tottenham fell to a single sucker punch goal at Besiktas, on a night when the lack of light at the stadium thanks to two floodlight failures matched the view to the end of the tunnel if Spurs think they are going to win this tournament.

It was a pallid performance from Spurs, who looked as though they were not happy to be playing this game.  Most of the players were giving less than 100%, pulling out of tackles and not tracking back if caught on the attack.  It begs the question of who should play in these games.  Would it be better to blood a few youngsters, who might play with the hunger and desire that seems so lacking in some of our senior players ?  Let's face it, if we play like this, any games we get in a future Champions League campaign might end up very messy.

As usual, there were many changes to the team and it looked like Pochettino was giving some players the opportunity to have a run out, but with Besiktas having seven players out (or rested), it was a strong enough team to win this.  We won in Turkey in 2006 against this club when Berbatov and Ghaly scored, so have we really gone this far backwards ?  Yes, Besiktas are top of the Turkish league, but such triflings never bothered Spurs in past years.

The opening exchanges saw a weak header low at Vorm’s feet from the home team and Rose crossing low but having it cut out before it reached Chadli and then Nacer floated in a centre that was too high for Roberto Soldado. Chiriches had nearly handed an opening for Besiktas when he was caught in two minds and gave the ball away on the left wing on the corner of the box, but Rose helped him out to win it back.

However, seven and a half minutes in, the lights went out !! Another match in the Europa League when the ref took the players off for an extended break from the play before the home club could manage to get the floodlights working again.

While Spurs had won a number of early corners, the nearest they came to making something of them was when Paulinho’s cross was touched on, but Stambouli couldn’t get on the end of it at the far post.

Spurs were almost undone by a through ball to Tosun, but Vorm came to claim it and then the striker was almost played through, but was given offside. Meanwhile, Tottenham had a good chance when Kaboul headed Paulinho’s free-kick back into the middle from the far post and Soldado got on the end of it, but he didn’t get a good touch on his effort.

Halfway through the first half, Spurs picked off the ball in midfield and Dembele played it to Soldado in the right hand channel, but his shot from there was blocked for a corner. The poor quality of the pitch was not helping wither side play the ball on the floor and consequently, the game stuttered with possession being given away and fouls littering the game.

With 15 minutes to half time, Sahan ran into the Spurs box and with players standing off him, he tried a shot that was blocked, then more carefully shot the rebound just over the bar from 12 yards out on the left. As Spurs moved the ball to the other end, Townsend’s reverse pass into the box set Soldado free and his cross nearly found its way through to Paulinho, but it was knocked out for a corner. As so often happens, nothing was created from the corner or the one that followed it.

Mousa Dembele showed what he can do by holding off four players, but when he got 20 yards out, he produced a weak shot at goal. While Tottenham were trying to play a measured possession game, they were still getting knocked off the ball too easily, especially players like Chadli, who should be strong enough to hold opponents off.

The second half began with full back having a shot over the bar and while Spurs controlled possession, they failed to make inroads into the Besiktas defence, although they were stopped illegally sometimes. Rose’s low ball in found no yellow shirt in the middle of the box and the keeper touched it wide for a corner and from it Walker’s cross had to be headed out at the far post for another one.

In the 58th minute, Younes Kaboul tried to clear the ball, he was closed down and Tosun struck the loose ball from 25 yards and it thundered off the crossbar and out again. The luck Spurs had there was soon evaporating, when a cross from the right was touched square by Sahan for Tosun to turn the ball past Vorm from inside the six yard box ahead of Kaboul, leaving Spurs needing a goal to return to top spot in the table. Once more, an individual mistake cost Spurs a goal.

A long ball found Chadli and he set up Soldado, but his effort was once more blocked for a corner. From it, Soldado almost volleyed Chadli’s flick on into the net, but it was deflected wide again. When the corner was cleared and Spurs moved the ball about, Rose hit a 22 yarder low at goal, but the keeper Zengin was right behind it. But Spurs could have found themselves 0-2 down, when Dembele gave the ball away, Frei played a give and go with Tosun and hit a shot with only Vorm to beat, but he only found the side-netting. He should really have done better, although he looked offside when he received the ball.

Sosa was on the end of a break on Spurs, but when he got into the box, he sliced a shot way wide of the goal from the right side, but Besiktas had more energy after their goal and pushed Tottenham into making mistakes in their own half. Spurs were unfortunately only too willing to oblige When Tottenham did get the ball, they failed to move it as quickly as the Turkish side and this allowed them to get people back behind the ball.
If Tottenham were taking this competition seriously, it looked like they were not living up to that claim. The fact that there was little urgency among the players and the lack of a real goal threat meant it was pretty easy for the home side, who also rarely looked like scoring, but still were more threatening than us. The substitutions failed to quicken the tempo and if anything helped Besiktas, as there was little change in the way we played our game.

Our chances o f progressing in the Europa League are affected by this result and it wouldn’t be so bad if we were threatening to tear up the league, but that isn’t the case and it could be a tough slog through this season, with the next few weeks being particularly gloomy. Even more gloomy than the lack of light when the lights went out for the second time on exactly 90 minutes.

Only a blocked effort from Lamela came from the restart and despite the pressure, Tottenham failed to look as though they would score.

Having finished second in the group we now potentially face a tougher match and will be away in the second leg of the Round of 32, so, if the club do intend to go for the Champions League place at the end of this tortuous road, they will be doing it the hard way.  I remember the days when Spurs use dot go out in Europe and roll these teams over.  Where did those days go ?

East Stan


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What you thought
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Other scores during this round :
Group A
Apollon Limassol (CYP) 0 Villarreal (SPA) 2 Thursday
Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) 3 FC Zurich (SWI) 0 Thursday
Group B
Club Brugge (BEL) 2 HJK Helsinki (ICE) 1 Thursday
FC Kobenhavn (DEN) 1 Torino (ITA) 5 Thursday
Group C
Partizan Belgrade (SER) 0 Asteras Triplois (GRE) 0 Thursday
Group D
Red Bull Salzburg (AUS) 5 Astra (ROM) 1 Thursday
Dinamo Belgrade (SER) 4 Glasgow Celtic 3 Thursday
Group E
PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 0 Dinamo Moscow (RUS) 1 Thursday
Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 Estoril (POR) 1 Thursday
Group F
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 1 St. Etienne (FRA) 0 Thursday
Qarabag (AZE) 0 Internazionale (ITA) 0 Thursday
Group G
Standard Liege (BEL) 0 Feyenoord (HOL) 3 Thursday
Sevilla (SPA) 1 HNK Rijeka (CRO) 0 Thursday
Group H
Lille (FRA) 0 Wolfsburg (GER) 3 Thursday
Everton 0 Krasnodar (RUS) 1 Thursday
Group I
Young Boys Bern (SWI) 2 Sparta Prague (CZE) 0 Thursday
Napoli (ITA) 3 Slovan Bratislava (SLK) 0 Thursday
Group J
Steaua Bucaresti (ROM) 0 Dinamo Kiev (UKR) 2 Thursday
Rio Ave (POR) 2 Aalborg (DEN) 0 Thursday
Group K
PAOK (GRE) 1 Guingamp (FRA) 2 Thursday
Fiorentina (ITA) 1 Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 2 Thursday
Group L
Metalist Kharkiv (UKR) 0 Lokeren (BEL) 1 Thursday
Legia Warsaw (POL) 2 Trabsonspor (TUR) 0 Thursday




Group C League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Besiktas 6 3 3 0 11 5 12 +6
2 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 2 1 9 4 11 +5
3 Asteras Tripolis 6 1 3 2 8 10 6 -2
4 Partizan Belgrade 6 0 2 4 2 11 2 -9


Position before match :  1st
Position after match :  2nd


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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