Sherwood’s men travel to Ukraine on Thursday the 19th of February, 2014 (GMT 18:00) ahead of a weekend trip to Carrow Road. The Tottenham manager promised the media and fans that he would show respect to the opposition and competition by putting out a strong side. However, Spurs have enough strength in depth that Sherwood should have no problem resting key players and putting out a strong team.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk will come into this game on the back of a sizable mid-season break in the Ukrainian league, so they should be well rested, albeit a little rusty. They are managed by Harry Redknapp’s predecessor at Spurs, Juande Ramos, the man who famously took only 2 points from the first 8 games of the season with Spurs. His Dnipro side took second in Group E, finishing nine points ahead of third placed side FC Paços de Ferreira. However, they were unable to take any points from group winners ACF Fiorentina.
Look for Dnipro to try to rattle Spurs with a quick start, but they will probably settle into a compact, organized, and deep defensive block and attempt to stifle the Tottenham attack.
Spurs topped Group K with a remarkable perfect record of 18 points, and the only positive goal differential in the group. They will be trying to put the tie to bed in Ukraine, so that they can rest key players before a crucial two and a half week run of fixtures that includes Cardiff, Chelsea, and Arsenal.
It is likely that Sherwood will go with an attacking 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 shape rather than the 4-2-3-1 shape he has been employing recently. The following players are out due to injury: Sandro, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches and Jermain Defoe. Furthermore, these players were not included in the travelling squad: Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Mousa Dembele, Younes Kaboul and Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham should have ample service from spark plug Andros Townsend, and Danish Player of the Year Christian Eriksen. Look for Paulinho and Bentaleb to play as a double pivot here. Due to the missing players in the lineup, a fullback duo of Zeki Fryers and Kyle Naughton seems likely here.
The Tottenham attack should be too much to handle for the Ukrainian side. Spurs simply have too much creativity, power, and pace for Dnipro to handle. Look for Spurs to impose themselves on the game, controlling possession in the opposition’s half and dictating the tempo. They should have enough quality to take a sizable advantage back to White Hart Lane.