Jack Beresford looks at why a 2-0 away win and a goal for Roberto Soldado could be on the cards for Tottenham in Cyprus this Thursday.
With key players like Christian Eriksen left at home to rest up ahead of Sunday’s important Premier League clash with Queens Park Rangers, a few of Tottenham’s fringe stars could be in line for a starting role in this Europa League qualifier.
The Lilywhites start as heavy favourites for an away win, but with European competition often proving hard to predict, it could be wise to look at the stats that matter ahead of kick-off.
Roberto Soldado is no slouch on the continent
The Spaniard may have failed to hit the high notes for Tottenham in the Premier League last term, with just six top-flight goals to his name, but it’s been an entirely different story in Europe.
Soldado scored five goals in seven games for Spurs in the Europa League last term, and with Emmanuel Adebayor not in the travelling party for this play-off encounter in Cyprus, the 29-year-old could be the one to watch, having scored twice at this stage of the competition last season.
Two is the magic number for Tottenham
Spurs go into this game as heavy favourites for victory on the night and while some may be expecting a comprehensive victory, don’t be surprised to see the Lilywhites win 2-0.
Tottenham have scored exactly two goals in five of their last seven games away from White Hart Lane in this competition, with each of their last three Europa League away wins coming by a scoreline of exactly 2-0.
Spurs should keep it clean in Cyprus
Signed from Swansea City over the summer, Michel Vorm was not registered in time for this play-off encounter, meaning veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel could be given a rare chance to impress Mauricio Pochettino.
Thankfully Tottenham boast a fine defensive record in this competition, which has seen them claim clean sheets in four of their last six Europa League encounters. Number five could come here whether it's Friedel or Hugo Lloris.
AEL Limassol should not be underestimated at home
Tottenham may have registered 5-0 wins in their previous two games played away from home at this stage of the tournament, but AEL have proven difficult to beat at Stadio Antonis Papadopoulos in European competition over the years.
Over the last 11 continental games, including Europa League, Champions League and Cup Winners Cup fixtures, the Cypriot side have lost twice, drawn twice and won seven times. That run includes a 1-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg last month and an under strength Tottenham best beware.
Goals look guaranteed for the Premier League outfit
Zenit ultimately progressed past AEL with a 3-0 win in Russia but the Cypriot’s sides league form at home during the back-end of last season should offer Harry Kane and co. some encouragement going into the game.
Limassol conceded a whopping seven goals over the course of their final three games of the season at Stadio Antonis Papadopoulos at a rate of just over two a game.