Tottenham visit FC Dnipro in the away leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday, February 20, 2014 (10:00 AM Pacific, 18:00 GMT), at Dnipro Arena in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. Spurs’ manager Tim Sherwood has left a lot of stars behind, as Champions League qualification remains the club’s top target. The London club traveled to Ukraine in the midst of political turmoil in the country, with riots on the streets of the capital Kiev, some 220 miles from Dnipropetrovsk. European football governing body UEFA were forced to change the venue of the Dynamo Kiev – Valencia CF match to Nicosia, Cyprus, but the Tottenham match is expected to go ahead.
Ramos and Konoplyanka
Tottenham former manager Juande Ramos bids to put the London club’s European adventure to a premature end at his new home in Ukraine. The Spanish coach guided Spurs to a League Cup final win in 2008, but he was fired after a nightmare start in the Premier League months later and certainly has a lot to prove. Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, who was a Spurs target in last January transfer window and nearly joined Liverpool in deadline day, is Ramos’ main man with 3 goals in the competition. Ukraine international Ruslan Rotan is another household name in midfield, while former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic and Roman Zozulya will lead the attack in a 4-4-2 formation.
The Ukraine club qualified for the Round of 32 after finishing second in Group E behind Fiorentina leaving Pandurii from Romania and the Portuguese of Pacos Ferreira behind. They won 4 games and lost 2 in the group stage, in which they scored 11 goals and conceded 5. But with the Ukrainian season in a winter break, they have not played a competitive match since December.
Sherwood forced to change
Tottenham have taken the competition seriously during the group stage with six wins out of six, but the club’s priorities are clear. Champions League qualification must be secured, so Tim Sherwood will rest some of his regulars in order to keep them fresh for the next match in the Premier League against Norwich.
Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon, Hugo Lloris and Kyle Walker did not travel to Ukraine, while Sandro, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches are injured. Brad Friedel will start in goal, Michael Dawson returns in the heart of defence, Nacer Chadli, Andros Townsend and Christian Eriksen should play in midfield, while Roberto Soldado will return in place of Adebayor.
FC Dnipro vs Tottenham Prediction
Tottenham could face some problems against the enthusiastic hosts, but they are more than capable to take a result that would give them the advantage for last 16 qualification. Result: 1-2. Most importantly, lets hope all the players and fans have a calm encounter without any incidents.
FC Dnipro vs Tottenham Television
The match will be televised on Fox Sports 2 USA, and ITV4 (UK).