Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Match Preview - Spurs v Club Brugge UEFA Cup

Spurs: WDWWWD Club Brugge: DWWWDW

Club Brugge, second seeds in the group, come to White Hart Lane in 3rd place in the Belgium League with 20 points from 10 games, six points behind the leaders. They lost their first two away games including a match against second placed Anderlecht (0-1) but are undefeated since then and last Friday they recorded a comfortable 5-1 home win over Exc. Moeskroen. Their goals were scored by Vermant, Yulu-Mantondo (2), Clement and Baloban and will be feeling confident of getting a result.

2nd Qual. Round: won both games against FK Suduva from Lithuania - 2-0 in the first leg, and 5-2 at home.
1st Round: Brugge defeated Ruzomberok (from Slovakia) 2-1 on aggregate, winning the first away leg by a single goal.

Their first group stage game was a home draw 1-1 with Leverkusen, the top seeds, and reports indicate that goalkeeper, Stijn Stijnen, kept them in the game with a string of outstanding saves. Their equalising goal was scored at the start of the second half by Clement, following a corner.

Their team from that match was:
Stijnen, Clement, Gvozdenovic, Maertens, Pedersen, Blondel, Daerden, Englebert, Vermant, Ishiaku, Balaban. Friday’s two goal hero, Yulu-Matondo was among the substitutes.

Brugge appear to have a full strength squad available with a few players, strikers -Ibrahim, Ishiaku, and Balaban and defender, Gvozdenovic, all available having recovered from minor injuries. Names to note are Blondel who had a short spell at White Hart Lane and will be remembered by many for his short cameo debut appearance against Southampton. His other appearances were rare and being unable to settle in London he returned to Belgium. Other players with experience in England are Clement at Coventry and Balaban at Aston Villa.

Brugge have a poor record on English soil in European competitions – from eight trips their best result is 1-1 at Nottingham Forest, while Liverpool have twice denied them in Finals, defeating them in the UEFA Cup Final in 1975-76 and again in the European Cup Final three years later.

Spurs have played Club Brugge on one previous occasion – they met in the UEFA Cup in the 1984-85 season. Spurs lost the away leg 1-2, Clive Allen scoring and Glenn Hoddle sent off, but won 3-0 at home in the second leg – Roberts, Allen and Hazard scoring. Their other European encounter with Belgian opposition was in the previous year’s UEFA Cup Final, defeating Anderlecht on penalties in that never to be forgotten final at White Hart Lane.

Spurs are undefeated in seven games since losing to Liverpool in late September and have saved their best performances for European competitions, especially the away game against Besiktas. The Spurs team should be as previously in Europe with Huddlestone retaining his place for the recovering Zokora and probably Berbatov and Defoe as strike partners. Berbatov was outstanding in Turkey but having been rested for two games was disappointing against Watford. He is clearly more suited to the tempo of European football and will have another chance to show his class. Defoe has shown a return to form and deserves to start. Lennon will start with either Ghaly or Murphy on the opposite side.

Reports suggest that the Brugge coaches were not impressed by Spurs’ performance at Watford so hopefully Spurs will surprise them and get the three points which, with three teams qualifying, would all but guarantee them a place in the next knock-out stages of the tournament.

Group B: P W Pts
Spurs 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Leverkusen 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Brugge 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Besiktas 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Din. Bucharest 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
[First posted on COYS Messageboard]


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