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NS Mura vs. Tottenham Hotspur Conference League Preview: The annual trip east

It would not be the Conference League without a visit to Central Europe.

Tottenham Hotspur v NS Mura: Group B - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Fueled by a come from behind win over Leeds, Tottenham Hotspur has reason to believe that things are on the up. Antonio Conte has begun his tenure with a couple wins and a draw, and the upcoming schedule is busy, but winnable. Nothing encapsulates that more than Thursday’s trip to Slovenia.

Spurs sit second in Group G after four matches, three points behind leader Rennes. As a reminder, the Europa Conference League features a playoff round of the knockout phase, so winning the group does provide an advantage. This means the fixture against NS Mura is one that must yield three points.

That is a pretty reasonable request for Conte’s squad. Tottenham dispatched Mura 5-1 at home, a side that has lost its other three Group Stage matches as well. Sitting just fifth in the Slovenian PrvaLiga, this is a lopsided contest that should be a nice viewing for those uninterested in seeing my Detroit Lions embarrass themselves on national television for the 87th year in a row.

Mura (4th, 0 pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (2nd, 7 pts)

Date: Thursday, November 25
Time: 12:45 pm ET, 5:45 pm UK
Location: Stadion Ljudski vrt, Maribor, Slovenia
TV: Paramount+ (USA), BT Sport 2 (UK)

Having seen just one Mura match prior, there is not a whole lot to be said heading into this one. During the home fixture, Spurs took an early lead after Dele Alli earned and scored a penalty, and Giovanni Lo Celso blasted one over the keeper just minutes later. There was a bit of a lull after that, but the traffic was fairly one-way.

The only exception was a superb volley by Ziga Kous, which tightened the lead to 2-1 in the second half. Nuno Espirito Santo was not going to take any chances, despite his team being in control, and sent in Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and Lucas Moura to finish off the match. Kane obliged, notching a hat trick in under 20 minutes. Hopefully, no massive action like this needs to be repeated this time.

Three themes

  1. Spurs showed plenty of life in the second half against Leeds and gave a glimpse as to what Conte expects from an attacking perspective. This match calls for a lot of rotation, so it will be curious to see if the reserves are able to carry on this vision. Fortunately, Mura should not provide a ton of resistance, and the second-choice wingers will have the space to get forward.
  2. Few were excited to see Harry Winks replace Oliver Skipp in the lineup over the weekend, with Tanguy Ndombele the preferred option. While the Conference League is certainly not how one would expect to use players like him and Dele Alli, perhaps this can be their chance to audition under the new manager.
  3. Mura has scored just two goals in four Group Stage matches, so the defense should not be that tested. Whoever makes up the back three will be able to push forward and show some of the aggression that this side has lacked all season. Three points are important, but the style can count for the supporters too.