Unbeaten at home in the Premier League, Tottenham are finding the Champions League an altogether tougher nut to crack. When the draw was made, optimism was high that the Spurs would win the group. A harsh lesson came in the first game, the home defeat to Monaco.
Four points from the next nine hasn’t improved their situation and they need to win this match to have any chance of staying in the competition.
AS Monaco top the group and know that they are definitely in the Europa League no matter what happens in the final two games.
They also know that three points against Tottenham confirms the Monegasque sends them into the Round of Sixteen, and avoiding defeat in the final match in Leverkusen will seal first place in the group. They will be motivated.
Winning the opening game at Wembley gave Monaco the perfect start and built on the good beginnings to their Ligue Un campaign. After a brief wobble, they are back on track with sixteen goals in the last four games. Defensively they’ve been sharp as well, conceding just four in five games.
Radamel Falcao is showing the form that Manchester United and Chelsea fans won’t recognise the player now with four in the last four league games, as well two against CSKA in the last match.
Second in Ligue Un, just three points behind Nice and ahead of PSG on goal difference, Things are looking up for Monaco and unbeaten at home in all competitions, they will be confident of making progress to the knockout stage.
For a fleeting moment, Spurs season seemed to be caving in. West Ham led 2 – 1 with injury time approaching. Step forward Harry Kane, rediscovering his form at a critical moment.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team face a tough test in the next few days. The trip to Monaco is followed by a derby with Chelsea. Unbeaten domestically, they have made a complete pig’s ear of an eminently winnable group.
Defeat in Monaco sets them up for a winner takes all match against CSKA with the dubious honour of the Europa League the prize.
Spurs can take hope from Arsenal two years ago. 3 – 1 down from the first leg of the Round of Sixteen tie at the Emirates, the Gunners won the return 2 – 0 and should have won by a bigger margin.
Saturday’s win couldn’t have come at a better time. It halted a winless run of five games and gives hope that it is a permanent return to winning ways. Spurs need it. Qualifying for the Champions League this season via the Premier League will be difficult with five clubs in the mix. With that level of competition, drawing games can be as damaging as a defeat.
Toby Alderweireld’s absence will be sorely missed but reverting to the 3 – 4 – 2 – 1 formation which worked so well in the north London derby might give Tottenham the platform for success.
FORM (Last six games)
AS Monaco - DWDWWW
Tottenham Hotspur - DLDLDW
- Only Arsenal and Leeds United have won in Monaco out of their seven meetings with English clubs.
- Tottenham have never won a competitive match in France, drawing three and losing once, to Lyon.
- Prior to last weekend, Tottenham previous three goals had all been penalties.
- The only English teams to lose a Champions League match with referee Bjorn Kuipers has been in charge are Manchester City (4 – 1 to Bayern) and Manchester United (2 – 1 to Basle).
- Saturday’s match was the first time in nine games Tottenham had scored more than one goal.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS [BEST PRICED ODDS]
HEAD TO HEAD
Last six meetings
Date Competition Result
14/09/2016 Champions League Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 2 AS Monaco
10/12/2015 Europa League Tottenham Hotspur 4 – 1 AS Monaco
01/10/2015 Europa League AS Monaco 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham can’t afford to lose and have to win while Monaco progress if they don’t lose. All the ingredients are set for a replay of the meeting when the French side won at Wembley. Spurs have recovered their form but the pressure is all on them. An early goal will settle nerves but conceding early will damage Spurs chances.
Between a rock and a hard place? Spurs have got to get the first goal; their season depends on it. And I think they will; Tottenham to win 2 – 0 and keep the Champions League dream alive.
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account