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Monaco visit an opportunity for full-strength Tottenham to prove European credentials

01 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Monaco visit an opportunity for full-strength Tottenham to prove European credentials

Mauricio Pochettino's team selection for the trip to the Stade Louis II will indicate how seriously the Spurs manager is taking the Europa League

In the press conference preceding Thursday’s Europa League trip to Monaco, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino emphasised the importance of Premier League clubs performing better in Europe.

The Argentine is not wrong, of course, but his team selection for the fixture will indicate just how much responsibility he personally feels for improving a recent record that is, at best, inauspicious.

That goes for both the aforementioned clubs in general and Spurs themselves.

In their fifth successive season in UEFA’s secondary club competition, they are yet to progress past the quarter-finals.

And while there is an acceptance that, particularly at home, a slew of fringe players can be trusted to get certain matches won, certain occasions require being taken seriously.

The Group J trip to the Stade Louis II is one of them.

Spurs have been beaten the last two times that they have faced credible opposition away from home – 1-0 to Besiktas in December and 2-0 to Fiorentina in February – with the line-ups for both featuring a myriad of players not considered good enough to be first-team regulars.

If they are to win this match – and they are 12/5 to do so – the talents of Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane are required.

The latter’s presence is particularly vital considering South Korean forward Son Heung-min, who scored twice in the 3-1 win against Qarabag two weeks ago, will miss the game with a foot injury.

Kane was visibly lifted after scoring his first club goal of the season against Manchester City at the weekend and the striker is 12/1 to score first in a win for the visitors.

Fortunately for them, this Monaco team face is nowhere near as good as the one which humbled their North London rivals Arsenal in the Champions League last season.

That is not unsurprising considering the club lost five of their best players in the summer transfer window – including Anthony Martial, Layvin Kurzawa and Geoffrey Kondogbia to Manchester United, Paris St Germain and Inter Milan respectively.

Unsurprisingly, Leonardo Jardim’s side have endured a difficult start to the season.

They were edged out of the Champions League play-off by Valencia – Martial played in that match but was sold just days later – and are currently ninth in Ligue 1, eight points behind leaders PSG.

Monaco, who drew 1-1 at Anderlecht in their opening group game, are 6/5 to beat Spurs – a price that might not appear worthwhile for a side that is yet to win a domestic home game this season.

Yet they still have undeniable quality in their team.

Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva are exciting prospects who will probably leave for stronger leagues by next summer, while the European pedigree of Portuguese trio Joao Moutinho, Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Coentrao could be significant – especially against relatively inexperienced opposition.

But if a full-strength Spurs side is able to thrash Manuel Pellegrini’s City, then they are certainly capable of achieving a positive result against Monaco.

So rather than believe he can get away with resting key players, Pochettino should do exactly the opposite.

Not only would it continue the genuine momentum cultivated at White Hart Lane in recent weeks, it would also be a demonstrable commitment to the competition his side have a realistic chance of winning.

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