Basel vs. Tottenham Hotspur preview: Spurs' Europa League lives on the line

Paul Gilham

Tottenham need a win in Switzerland to advance to the Europa League semifinals.

Paris Saint-Germain suffered (yeah, suffered) a 2-2 home draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal and while they did well to draw in the second leg, it was 1-1 and they went out on away goals. Albeit a step down in tournaments to the Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur find them in the same position -- tied 2-2 on aggregate heading to the second leg away.

Luckily for Spurs, though, they aren't playing Barcelona.

Instead, Tottenham will play Basel, against whom winning away is a much easier task. But Basel are still an excellent team who have recently taken scalps from Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Sporting Lisbon in European competition. Oh, and then there was last week when Basel didn't just get a result at White Hart Lane, they outplayed Spurs for stretches.

That was a Spurs team with Gareth Bale and, for a short time, Aaron Lennon, too. Neither of the two will be available to Andre Villas-Boas on Thursday, joining Jermain Defoe on the bench for a match in which Spurs need a goal, and probably two considering how out of sorts their defense looked against Basel a week ago.

Without the trio of attackers, all eyes are going to be on Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Both have seen their form tick up of late and will be asked to carry the bulk of the attacking load. But it is Lewis Holtby an Clint Dempsey who might most need to shine for Spurs and turnaround what has been an underwhelming start to 2013 with 90 sterling minutes in Basel.

But despite the uphill climb, Tottenham remain confident. After all, a win and Spurs are through to the semifinals, away goals be damned.

"You can never tell what's going to happen in football but, mostly, you get what you deserve," Michael Dawson said. "So it's down to us and we're in a good position to go through, despite what some people think."

It helps that Basel are not Barcelona, too.

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