After a hard-fought win over Brighton at the weekend, Tottenham Hotspur are back in action in the Europa League on Thursday. This time they’re returning to Bulgaria for a match at co-league leaders Ludogorets at Huvepharma Arena in Razgrad.
Tottenham didn’t have a very good time in their last Europa away trip, falling 1-0 to Royal Antwerp, and also didn’t have the best of times in their last trip to Bulgaria, eking out a narrow win over Lokomotiv Plovdiv. The good news is that Ludogorets is currently bottom of Europa League Group J and are winless in their European campaign. That said, Spurs manager Jose Mourinho isn’t leaving anything to chance, telling reporters ahead of their flight to Bulgaria that “We will go full power.”
“Of course we are going to try to win the match. I don’t think against Antwerp it was the players, it was the attitude and the way we faced the game. I blame myself. We approached the knockout games seriously but perhaps this time we didn’t feel the pressure of the knockout and that the group stages are different which is true. But we were maybe waiting for the victory and it coming to us rather than trying to find it.
“I expect a good match. We play already against the second best team in Bulgaria [Lokomotiv Plovdiv] and it was a tough match. This will be tough. Nine league titles for Ludogorets is not for everyone. Maybe Bayern Munich and teams like that. We need points and we go to Bulgaria with this in mind. [They’re a] technical team with very good quality.”
They’ll have to do it without a few members of their first team. Mourinho stated that they will be without Serge Aurier, Sergio Reguilon, and Erik Lamela due to illness and injury.
“Reguilon is ill but not a Covid situation, just flu and we don’t want him to be with the team. Lamela was having a little problem for a few weeks and after the last game we decided that was the moment to stop and have this week plus the two weeks of internationals out to recover fully and Aurier a little problem, nothing important. He decided that with the medical team.”
That means some aspects of the starting lineup will be pretty clear heading into tomorrow’s match, especially at fullback, with Ben Davies and Matt Doherty expected to start. Japhet Tanganga is training again with the first team after recovering from his own injury, but it’s unknown whether he has regained enough fitness to feature at all for Spurs.
I don’t exactly know what “full power” means to Jose Mourinho, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see players like Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane from the start on Thursday, even with a Premier League trip to West Brom coming up on Sunday.