Rubin Kazan v Spurs: Preview, Team News & Predicted Score
Spurs travel to Tatarstan to take on Rubin Kazan for this away Europa League game. Last month, a young/2nd string Spurs side claimed a narrow 1-0 victory over Kazan at The Lane. That win has put Europa progress firmly in the Lilywhites sights. A win on Thursday will put Spurs through to the knock out stages.
Kazan showed, especially in the second half of the home game, that this trip is not going to be easy. Spurs were nowhere near their electrifying best and struggled to create opportunities against a well marshalled and European-experienced defence. Kazan’s midfield duo of Natcho and Noboa will really look to get a grip on this home game as they threatened to do at The Lane. If Martins or Valdez are on form in front of goal it could be a really tough night for what is sure to be another young Spurs team.
This will be a particularly big test for whichever midfield Harry Redknapp goes with. Tom Carroll, who has on the whole performed excellently throughout the Europa campaign should be given another chance to take on the Luka Modric role. If fit, Sandro should get the nod ahead of Livermore in the enforcer role and he would provide the perfect foil for the more lightweight Carroll. On one of the wings Giovanni Dos Santos is likely to continue, leaving Redknapp to choose between Falque or Andros Townsend on the other side. That’s assuming that Harry is going to continue with Lennon in the first XI on Sunday at Fulham.
Pavlyuchenko and Defoe are sure to be asked to reprise their Europa front pairing. Pav may see this as another chance to impress oil rich Russian sides to take him home and rescue him from Spurs. Defoe meanwhile has a point to prove now that Rafa van der Vaart seems to have unequivocally ousted him from Redknapp’s preferred starting XI for the ‘serious stuff.’ At the back, Spurs may have some more experienced heads. Gallas may get a run out, if he’s fit enough and if he does Corluka can return to his more natural position at right back and give Kyle Walker a well earned break from action. Bassong will undoubtedly retain his Europa centre back position with Danny Rose keeping the left back berth. Redknapp will have to choose between Cudicini and Gomes in goal, it seems to matter little which one plays, neither is likely to remove Friedel from the Premier League team.
This is going to be a really tough test, but also great experience, for the younger members of the Spurs squad. If Gallas does start, his nous will be crucial in helping them, particularly for the first twenty to thirty minutes when Kazan will undoubtedly look to press on and get an early goal. If Spurs can weather that then they have a good chance of picking up at least a point from this game. To do that though Spurs will need more incisiveness and cutting edge than shown against PAOK away or Rubin at home.
Dos Santos and Carroll will carry the creative burden and for differing reasons will want to really impress. It’ll then be up to Pavlyuchenko and Defoe to bury any chances they get. Something tells me that a win is unlikely in this one but I’m going as optimistic as I can with a 1-1 draw prediction.
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