Tottenham Hotspur face Lyon in a crunch tie in the Europa League tonight; taking a 2-1 advantage to the Stade Gerland after two wonderful free-kicks from Gareth Bale either side of a cracking effort from Samuel Umtiti settled things at The Lane last week.
In terms of team selection Jermain Defoe is still out along with Tom Huddlestone, Younes Kaboul and Sandro; but the most interesting piece of team news is that Andre Villas Boas will once again play Brad Friedel in between the sticks and not Hugo Lloris.
Friedel has become the Europa League goalie for Spurs since Lloris settled into English football; and the number one spot. However given Lloris’s recent employment by the French outfit it was believed he may feature in this tie but so far that has not been the case.
So where is the logic in not playing somebody with inside knowledge on your opponents?
First and foremost there is the fact AVB wants to keep Friedel happy. He understands the qualities having a goalkeeper with his wealth of experience brings to the team as a whole and how it can help Lloris develop into a Premier League star. Giving Friedel this important role may keep the veteran on-side for a while yet.
Then there is the question of what exactly are the benefits of playing Lloris against his former team. No amount of inside knowledge would have stopped Samuel Umtiti’s thunderbolt a week ago. Sure if one of the players like Bafetimbi Gomis or Lisandro Lopez, who he played and trained with for many years, got through one-on-one he might have some sort of psychological edge but likewise Friedel is more than capable of denying those players without ever met them before.
Then there is the pressure factor. Playing against your old team can always be a potentially daunting task for anyone but if you were the teams’ former imperial custodian and the countries international captain the game would certainly be comparable to being thrown in to a proverbial lion’s den. There is no doubt Lloris is a fine keeper and also seems to have character in abundance but why take the risk of it all getting to him when there is a player like Friedel sitting on the bench.
Perhaps the wispiest of arguments would be Friedel simply deserves to play in Europe for Spurs. Of course he was the goalie that helped Tottenham qualify in the league for the Champions League before being denied by Chelsea’s Munich heroics so essentially the American has earned his shot at European success.
I am sure Lloris will be giving him as much inside knowledge as possible to deny his former team-mates but the logic in playing Friedel is just as solid as fielding Lloris.
Who would you have picked? Friedel or Lloris?
image: © wonker