It’s hard to believe it, but Tottenham Hotspur play football again tomorrow in the Champions League. Sure they may have lost to Arsenal at the weekend, but at least they’re playing on Tuesday nights, right? We still have that at least.
Spurs are in Germany for the first of two upcoming matches against Eintracht Frankfurt. After a dispiriting loss to Sporting Lisbon in their last outing, Spurs are hoping for a good result on the road tomorrow that can set a platform for future success in the group stage.
Antonio Conte held his press conference after training this afternoon and gave a slightly good injury prognosis — although Spurs will be without Lucas Moura and Dejan Kulusevski, Ben Davies is back with the team and is available to play as a substitute.
“No new injuries. We have recovered Ben Davies. He will be on the bench. He is available. Only this news. The others, Kulusevski is out. Moura is out.”
“About Kulusevski, honestly I don’t know when he has the time to recover, I hope to recover him quickly, but I don’t know if for the next game, or for the game in the Champions League against Eintracht Frankfurt at home, I don’t know. I don’t know this. But about the situation, you know that we don’t depend on one player. We played four games without Deki, and we won without him. And in the past, we won and we lost with him, and it was the same. Also this season, the team doesn’t depend on one single player. It depends on the way that we play, the intensity that we want to put onto the pitch, the desire, it depends on this.”
This almost certainly means that we are likely to see Clement Lenglet retain his place in Conte’s back three formation, with Davies possibly coming in as a late substitute should the need arise. The upcoming three match suspension for Emerson Royal after his red card against Arsenal likely means he’ll start tomorrow as well, since he can’t play at Brighton this Saturday.
But after that? All bets are off. We don’t know whether Conte will opt to rotate any more of his starting XI from last week, knowing that Spurs will have a tough match at a hostile stadium, or whether he’ll ride or die with the ones that got him here. Conte certainly wasn’t giving anything away — when asked about whether he could play 3-5-2 he basically said “sure,” but was far from commital.
“Kulusevski is out but with this type of player, this squad we can play with these two systems, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Also, Bissouma is a player that is a good player who can play with the two midfielders, the two strikers could be Sonny and Kane or Richarlison and Kane. On Kulusevski it is better when we want to play with 3-4-3.”
Clear as mud? Conte also gave some hope to those fans who are anxious to see Bryan Gil play. The young Spaniard has yet to see the field this season, and came very close to heading to Valencia on loan before the deal fell apart at the last minute, and Conte seemed to suggest that he could feature in the right circumstance against Frankfurt due to the need for rotation.
“Still in the squad, Bryan Gil. Tomorrow he is the first option for our attack. Kulusevski is out. Moura is out. Moura will be out for a long time. It was the same for Kulusevski. We are talking about a young player a good prospect. We wanted to send him on loan to Valencia but the situation has changed. I trust in him, he is working very well. If we need the possibility to give him time, I trust him. He could play.”
The same cannot be said about Djed Spence — Conte was asked about the “team signing” and essentially pulled out the I’m the boss speech.
“The fans have to be fans. The fans is the fans, I understand they can think everything but I see every day what happens during the training session. I try to do the best for the team. If they trust me, then they trust me, but the choices are mine. If I didn’t decide to pick one player it’s maybe because he’s not ready.
“We are talking about a young player with a good prospect, but I repeat I try to pick the best team. Also Doherty last season played every game. Now I’m not seeing him in the right way to start the game. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose. I try to put the best team, to pick the best team. If [the fans] trust me it’s ok, if they don’t trust me then I’m the coach and I need to take the best decision for Tottenham.”
Tottenham kick off at 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. UK. The match will be televised on BT Sport 3 in the UK and will be streamed on Paramount+ in the States.