This Thursday evening sees the return match of the last 32 Europa League tie between Olympique Lyonnais and Tottenham Hotspur. Andre Villas-Boas side will have been very relieved to come out of last week’s first leg with a 2-1 victory following a late Gareth Bale free kick. The tie is still on a knife edge however with Lyon having secured a vital away goal meaning a 1-0 victory at the Stade de Gerland would be enough to see the French side through.
Tottenham goalkeeper and French captain Hugo Lloris has compared this game to a Champions League match rather than a Europa League encounter, and he isn’t wrong. Both these sides have Champions League pedigree and it was only unfortunate circumstance that prevented Spurs qualifying for that particular competition this season. Lloris was rested for last week’s battle at White Hart Lane but is likely to play in his home country on Thursday.
Lyon come into this game off the back of an impressive 4-0 victory over Bordeaux on Sunday with two goals from Clement Grenier, and one each from Gueida Fofana and Alexandre Lacazette. Spurs on the other hand had a week off due to their early exit from the FA Cup and have only had this game to prepare for. Andre Villas-Boas is meticulous in his preparation and the fact his side will have had a full week to work on their tactics for this games makes me think that Spurs should just have the edge.
As far as a betting selection goes, it’s hard to look past Gareth Bale as an anytime goalscorer in his current rich vein of form, and I fancy the final result to be a score draw. You can bet on football at Unibet who make Lyon their favourites to come out on top here. However, Spurs are the favourites to qualify for the next round due to their goal advantage from the first leg.
The match kicks off Thursday 21st February at 6pm and can be seen live on ITV4, Sky Channel 120.
With only one Premier League game remaining for Tottenham in the month of February, it looks like March will be the all important period as far as Spurs cementing one of the top four positions is concerned. It begins on the 3rd with Arsenal making the trip to White Hart Lane in what is sure to be one the the most competitive battles of the Premier League season thus far. Tottenham then go to Liverpool, followed by a home match with Fulham and finally, they face Swansea at The Liberty Stadium. With Arsenal still only four points behind as things stand, a positive result for Spurs in that particular encounter would give Andre Villas-Boas men the perfect start.
From a gambling perspective, I can only compare the upcoming month to the live March Madness bets that are placed on the NCAA every March. The markets on the Premier League are growing each and every weekend and punters can now back Spurs to win a half, player’s to get hat tricks and even on red cards (an outcome which would not surprise me during the Arsenal game!) Those who have backed Spurs to finish the season in the top four will definitely be sweating during the next few weeks. For more information on the March Madness, visit the March Madness 2013 website.
Now unbeaten in ten league games, Tottenham will be confident of finishing the season on a high. The FA Cup exit aside, Spurs’ form has been excellent over the last few months. Andre Villas-Boas team now have a two legged, last 32 Europa Cup match with Lyon to look forward to which I personally believe they have every chance of winning. West Ham away at the end of February is not going to be easy as Sam Allardyce’s side always perform at Upton Park but it’s another winnable encounter.
Maybe I should be looking up the table rather than down it, and the fact is that Tottenham now site just five points behind second placed Manchester City. With Chelsea and City looking out of sorts, who knows just where Spurs could be placed after five more Premier League matches. Let’s hope that March is when it all falls into place for the Lilywhites.