On Matchday 3 at White Hart Lane, Rubin Kazan were not at their best. Yes, there was a bit of late drama and a couple of close calls, but they didn't really create too many clear-cut chances. Our second team scored a couple of goals. They didn't look like a team that regularly challenges the top sides in Russia or the team who frustrated the living hell out of Barcelona. Tottenham Hotspur B were the better side than Rubin Kazan A.
Is this a repeatable thing? No, probably not. Especially in Kazan, we're going to need to play an excellent game to get a point and take over front-runner status for the top place in the group. Rubin will be playing their best team again, and we'll probably be playing a team that looks slightly stronger than the one who played at WHL.
The center of defense is still going to be an issue. With Ledley King's games limited and the team having no desire to run Younes Kaboul into the ground, we'll see at least one of Sebastian Bassong and Jake Livermore in the center of defense again. Livermore was a pleasant surprise in the last game, as he didn't look the least bit out of place in the position. Bassong, despite all of the slagging off he gets from Spurs fans, has actually been a solid performer this season.
However, according to the team website, we could also see William Gallas make his first start of the season, which would be a massive boost. We're also expected to see Steven Pienaar for the first time this season. Neither is necessarily first choice when everyone is healthy, but both provide great options for the team and if they can stay fit, they will see a lot of game time this season.
Giovani dos Santos, Michael Dawson, Vedran Corluka, Tom Huddlestone, Niko Kranjcar and Danny Rose are the injured players who did not make the trip to Kazan. It's a big blow for Gio and the team financially, as Europa League is currently the only place for Gio to fight for a place in the first team and the only place for him to get in the shop window. At present, he's nowhere near a first team place and everyone in La Liga thinks our asking price is too high.
For everything you've ever wanted to know about Rubin Kazan's roster and style of play, check out the preview for the previous match
Tottenham Hotspur projected starting XI: Gomes; Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas, Walker; Townsend, Sandro, Livermore, Pienaar; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko
Do we find a way to get a starting place for Tom Carroll? I sure hope so, but I can't leave out Livermore and Sandro if both are fit, since they're currently not first choice in the league. We'll just have to wait and see.
Rubin Kazan vs. Tottenham Hotspur kicks off at 1:00 pm ET, 5:00 pm GMT. It can be seen on ITV4 in the UK, DirecTV Soccer in the USA, Setanta Sports in Ireland, and ESPN in Australia. I don't believe it is on TV anywhere in Canada. Alternative means in the game thread are no problem.