Part of the fun of previewing Tottenham Hotspur football matches is that the club is almost always super cagy about which players are going to start or play. It makes sense, since you usually don’t want to telegraph a team’s personnel to the opposition as they might be able to glean some tactical insight from it. It also makes it fun for us Spurs bloggers and fans as we get to play the guessing game about who might feature, what the lineup might look like, etc.
When you have a large squad like Spurs, it makes it more difficult to predict. I had some ideas based on Zaprudering the standard “players walk to the plane” video that Spurs posts every time they leave for an international trip and was working on potentially doing a predicted lineup post. What I didn’t expect is that Spurs would literally tell us that a prominent player was going to start.
But that’s what just happened with Gareth Bale. Weird!
I... worked on this story for an hour and... they just... they tweeted it out!
It’s incredibly rare for Spurs to just flat-out TELL you that any player is going to start. Sure, the manager might say so-and-so is fit and available for selection, but the club never just tweets out “GARETH BALE IS STARTING AGAINST ANTWERP.” But here we are.
We can, and should, continue to speculate on what the rest of the starting XI will look like tomorrow in Belgium. Pretty much the entire squad is healthy and available, so there’s a lot to choose from, but based on the first match against LASK it’s a pretty safe bet that Joe Hart will start in goal. We might see Serge Aurier and Giovani Lo Celso get at least some spot minutes off the bench since they’re both recently back from minor knocks that kept them out of the Burnley match at the weekend. Harry Kane was benched vs. LASK... could we see Carlos Vinicius again? Quite possibly! Gareth Bale is starting. Everything else is up for debate.
So take it away, commentariat — who would you like to see start tomorrow? Who do you think actually WILL start tomorrow? Go nuts.
Update: So Tottenham actually tweeted out the Bale news before Mourinho’s press conference, which is going on as this update is being written. Apparently Tanguy Ndombele and Eric Dier were both left at home out of an abundance of caution, according to Friend of the Blog Dan Kilpatrick.