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Tottenham Hotspur take on Olympique Lyonnais in the first leg of the last 32 of UEFA's Europa League
Updated 11:59am Thursday 14th February 2013 in Sport
Benoit Assou-Ekkoto and Jan Vertonghen are expected to come into the team to freshen up the back four while Emmanuel Adebayor will make his first start since representing Togo in the African Cup of Nations.
Brad Friedel will start instead of former Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris while Tom Huddlestone, Jermain Defoe, Younes Kaboul and Sandro are all sidelined with injury.
Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis could come into the team as might Yoann Gourcuff while former Lilywhite Steed Malbranque may make the squad also.
What’s been said
Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas: “This could be a test of whether we’re good enough for the Champions League. I think we’ve been handed the most difficult draw of this knockout phase.
“This is like a Champions League tie. Lyon represent a club with tremendous Champions League experience in recent years. It will be a good test for Tottenham. It’s always going to be a learning experience for us and I think it can serve that purpose towards the future.”
Lyon boss Rémi Garde told UEFA.com: “The Europa League is clearly a target for us but this won’t be easy. We’re up against a team in good form in their league who have the quality to play in the Champions League.”
Where it will be won and lost
Lyon’s current league form suggests Tottenham will go into the game confidently as successive 3-1 defeats away at Ajaccio and at home to Lille have seen their Ligue 1 title challenge fade over the last month.
Spurs, by contrast, haven’t lost in the Premier League since mid-December and barring their FA Cup Fourth Round slip-up at Leeds United, have been in good form in 2013.
Containing Gareth Bale will be Lyon’s biggest concern as the marauding Welshman has scored five goals in his last four games for club and country.
Gomis is Lyon’s leading goalscorer with 12 for the season though the French club’s main aim will be to clean up their leaky defence and come away with a respectable scoreline.
Lyon arrive to the capital low on confidence and Spurs should take full advantage.
Tottenham win, 2-0.
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