Italian club Lazio will host Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League in a Group J Europa League showdown in Rome on Thursday November 23. after four group games, Lazio sits in first place in the table with four eight points from two wins and two draws while Spurs are in second with six points from a win and three draws. Maribor is third with four points and Panathinaikos brings up the rear with just a pair of points.
Positions can change mightily quickly in four-team groups and Spurs need to start picking up points instead of dropping them. This match at the Olympic Stadium is very important for both clubs and if one of them wins this match they should move on to the next round of the competition next year. However, for some reason managers like to point out to club owners that they have succeeded by leading their teams to Europe and then treat the tournaments lightly when they get there.
This means we could see Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas rest a couple of top players because Spurs have a London derby against West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday. Hopefully this isn’t the case, but after going four games in the league the pressure’s certainly building on him to produce. Striker Emmanuel Adebayor received a straight red card in Spurs’ 5-2 away loss to Arsenal last Saturday and he’ll have to sit out three league games with a suspension, so he should get the start here.
Lazio is doing pretty well in Italy’s Serie A and are in fifth place in the table at the moment. They’re within reach of first-place Juventus as they trail the leaders by nine points after 13 matches. Lazio and Spurs met earlier in the Europa League at White Hart Lane in London and the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Lazio may be top of the group here in the Europa League, but they’ve won just two games out of their past seven. A win here would some them go through to the next round and leave Spurs in trouble since the Italian side could then rest players against Maribor, while Tottenham would have a tougher time of it at home against Greek outfit Panathinaikos.
One of Lazio’s best players is still Miroslav Klose. The 34-year-old German international has seven goals overall in his last nine matches. Striker Libor Kozak is also playing well and had a pair of goals in the last match against Panathinaikos. Midfielder Hernanes of brazil and the Italian Antonio Candreva can also depended on to chip in with their fair share of goals.
Spurs will be missing a few good players due to injury such as midfielders Dembele and Scott Parker. Defender Steven Caulker is a question mark and of course it’s anybody’s guess as to who will start in goals as American Brad Friedel and French international Hugo Lloris are dueling it out for the number one spot.
This is a huge game for both teams and while Spurs might be happy to settle for a draw, it might not be enough to see them through to the next round with one game still remaining in the group stage. However, a draw is still a likely result.
Sportsbook William Hill shows the latest odds on the match to be 6/4 for a Lazio win with a Tottenham victory at 15/8 and a draw at 11/5.