When Spurs supporters found out their club would take part in the inaugural Europa Conference League this season, it was impossible to overlook how far Tottenham Hotspur had fallen. From Champions League finalists to competing in Europe’s third-rate club competition in the space of two years.
But if you ignore the presence of NS Mura (what European campaign would be complete without a trip to the furthest reaches of the continent?) Spurs’ Conference League group feels, well, stronger than you might have expected.
Vitesse Arnhem finished fourth in the Eredivisie last season under wily German coach Thomas Letsch – his 3-5-2 formation standing out a mile in a league where everyone else sticks like glue to those Cruyffian 4-3-3 principles – while Rennes were a Champions League outfit themselves as recently as 2020.
Furthermore, when Tottenham travel from Britain to Brittany ahead of tomorrow’s tea-time clash, Nuno Espirito Santo will dedicate plenty of travel time working out how to stop two players who, if things had worked out differently, could have been wearing the white of Tottenham rather than the red of Rennes.
Will Santamaria and Guirassy come back to haunt Spurs?
According to reports, Spurs tried to sign Baptiste Santamaria in a bargain £13 million deal 15 months ago.
At the time, the tough-tackling, box-to-box midfielder was being labelled the second coming of N’Golo Kante, even if Santamaria sees himself as more of a Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard.
The 26-year-old enforcer is back in France after a successful yet brief spell at SC Freiburg and, if Tottenham’s midfield performs like it did in Saturday’s humbling 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, the swaggering Santamaria could run riot against the club that tried to sign him not long ago.
The biggest threat Tottenham faces, however, may be Serhou Guirassy, the rangy centre-forward scouted by Spurs in February 2020 when scoring twice in a Ligue 1 clash with Paris Saint-Germain (Daily Mail).
Like Santamaria, Guirassy ended up at Rennes instead and, after a sluggish start to the season, he’ll be desperate to show Spurs what they’re missing at Roazhon Park.