It has not been the smoothest Champions League campaign, but Tottenham Hotspur enters Wednesday night with a straightforward opportunity to clinch a spot in the knockout phase, and can even lock up first place in Group D with the other match going the right way as well (Eintracht defeating Marseille).
Should Spurs beat Sporting CP, then regardless of what else happens in this group, they will be in the Round of 16 for the fourth time in six seasons. A draw makes the final matchweek much trickier, so this would be a great time for Tottenham to move past a bad seven days and put together a strong performance.
Sporting won the reverse fixture when the visitors collapsed in the final five minutes, though a draw would not necessarily have been well-earned either. Instead, Spurs will need to repeat their performance from the win over Eintracht if they want to wrap up their knockout phase qualifications this week.
Tottenham Hotspur (1st, 7pts) vs. Sporting CP (t-2nd, 6pts)
Date: Wednesday, October 12
Time: 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Paramount+ (USA), BT Sport 3
After opening up the group stage with a pair of wins, Sporting has since dropped both contests against Marseille in somewhat comical fashion, recording more red cards (3) than goals (1). The early dismissals made neither match too competitive, though the Portuguese side was far from dominant in the first match against Spurs, so the baseline is not too high either.
It should be an advantage to face Sporting without goalkeeper Antonio Adan and attackers Ricardo Esgaio and Pedro Goncalves, the latter of whom assisted both goals in the previous affair. Those players contributed to the liveliness in the middle of the pitch that led to some strong counters, and their replacements are sure to lean into this strategy again, especially on the road.
- Sep 2022: 0-2 loss, away
Spurs are on the downswing, having lost two straight after winning the previous three. Their performance in the Champions League has been inconsistent at best, but the win over Eintracht did show that there is some aggressiveness and forward-thinking to be had if the situation is right.
The story was the same as always against Newcastle, however, where moments of quality play behind the 3-5-2 amounted to not much more than missed opportunities, and lapses from Hugo Lloris and the defense sealed the home side’s fate. Tottenham might have been a little unlucky to have lost, but at the same time the result does not feel out of place.
With Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison not coming back anytime soon, the focus on Heung-Min Son grows heavier and heavier. There is plenty of debate on which wingbacks should start or what combination of midfielders should be deployed, but if Son cannot get somewhat back in form (even if that means just average finishing numbers), it is hard to see how this team is going to find success. Spurs need their stars to step up and lock down a spot in the next round.