Spurs v Shamrock Rovers: Team News & Predicted Score
Only the most hardcore of the largely-England based Spurs fans can claim to know anything more about Shamrock Rovers other than they are Irish. This, until recently, was a group to which I belonged. Ever the diligent Spurs fan however, I have brushed up on my Shamrock Rovers history. So what do we need to know about our next opponents in the Europa League. Will they provide any difficulty for even the youth players at a Premier League club of our stature?
Much like us, they are a team from the capital, being based in Dublin. Also much like us they have been in existence for over a century, being only 19 years younger than us, founded in 1901. On the pitch, they have had a chequered recent history. As recently as 2006, Shamrock Rovers were not even playing their football in Ireland’s premier division, having been relegated after a Scotland-style play-off defeat to the rather wonderfully named “Vikings”. After a large scale turnover of staff and players, and amidst some turmoil about the new stadium (sound familiar?), Rovers promptly bounced straight back into the Irish top flight for the 2007 season.
In 2009, after much wrangling and legal dispute, Rovers were able to move into the newly built Tallaght stadium, a venue we visit later on in the campaign. In 2010, Rovers won the Irish Premier League title and thus found themselves involved in a 2-legged playoff with Partizan Belgrade to qualify for the group stages (part 1). After a 1-1 draw at home, Rovers produced a stirring performance to win 2-1 in Belgrade to pull off a 3-2 aggregate victory and progress. This season has marked the debut of Irish football into the Europa League group stage.
So what should we expect on the pitch from Rovers? The names of the Rovers team should hardly strike fear into the hearts of the Spurs players. One player who you may have heard of previously is Rovers midfielder Rohan Ricketts, an ex Spurs player (2002-2005) who has been bouncing around the smaller European leagues for the past few seasons. Perhaps of more interest will be the team that Spurs put out against the relative minnows from Ireland. On paper, any of the XIs we can create from our registered Europa League players should be strong enough to win comfortably in a home leg, against a side who have already played 30 matches in their domestic league this season, against our five.
Our previous outing in the Europa League this season resulted in a 0-0 draw which showcased some of our younger talents. The overall display was decent with Carroll, Kane and Falque in particular standing out on their European debuts. Many Spurs fans regard the Europa League as a competition we’d like to win, rather than being “frustrating” or “distracting” as our manager has suggested on a number of occasions. As a consequence, we expect to see some decent performances to reward our interest, and to keep our fringe players in form so that we can benefit from our much-fabled squad depth.
With the NLD just around the corner, I expect to see a team similar to that which played against PAOK and Stoke in the EL and LC respectively. Redknapp will not be taking any chances with players likely to be involved on Sunday, given the relative weakness of our opposition. Giovanni Dos Santos will probably be handed a largely free role, either playing wide or just behind the striker in a likely 4-4-2 formation. Dos Santos is perceived as a talented but troubled player, rarely able to bring his international form to bear whilst wearing the famous lilywhite. This match represents a chance for him to begin to win over the doubters and press for a chance in the Premier League first team reckoning.
Falque, Kane, Townsend and Carroll are all likely to be involved. Falque impressed in his debut in this competition, coming close to scoring against PAOK and taking up some good positions on the wing before tiring later in the match. Kane and Carroll were industrious without producing brilliance and Townsend was effective in a left-back position that is not his natural berth. Bassong should start, to give some more experience in the backline, along with Cudicini in goal. Both should give support and a strong base to launch our youthful attacking line-up against the team from Dublin.
Spurs should win this home leg against a semi-professional team at a canter, and should be able to restrict the visitors in the process. I’m afraid that the luck of the Irish won’t extend to this particular match – Young guns to outgun The Rovers, 3-0.
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