With the Champions League draw over, Tottenham fans all over the world will be relieved with the task that awaits their team. Spurs were drawn in Group E along with CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco. While no task is easy in the Champions League, the Lilywhites definitely have a favourable draw.
Tottenham were placed in pot 3 and so were lucky not to come face to face with Europe’s giants which sat in the higher pots. The Lilywhites also managed to dodge Group F which saw fixtures against holders Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. The only disappointment with the draw, for some, would be the lack of a stand out fixture against one of the bigger teams in Europe, which would excite the fans even more so.
Tottenham’s first match will be at home to Monaco on September 14. With Champions League nights being played at Wembley, Spurs will surely benefit from the 90,000 fans which will be in the stadium cheering them on. Last time Monaco face the North London club in London, was in the group stages of the Europa League. They suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Spurs’ second team. The French club famously knocked Spurs’ rivals Arsenal out of the Champions League two seasons ago, but since have lost a number of big name players which helped them do so.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will then travel to CSKA Moscow. The biggest fear for this fixture would have been the conditions that await the team. The fixture, however, is timely as it falls in September meaning Spurs could avoid the harsh conditions that would have awaited them in Russia. On average temperatures in Moscow in September doesn’t fall below 8°C, however by November Russia they can fall into the minus numbers while by December it can reach as much as ten degrees lower than that of September. Not only is this an advantage for Tottenham as they avoid the freezing temperatures, but it means that their opponents do not. Monaco will face the Russians in mid October, while Bayer will travel in late November.
Another problem Spurs face with this fixture is the distance. A midweek eight hour round trip is never a good thing for a football team, it will be tiring and will force Pochettino to decide whether to leave key players out of the gruesome trip. The fixture is sandwiched by an away trip to newly promoted Middlesbrough before a visit from Manchester City.
CSKA Moscow won the Russian League last season, and so cementing their place in Pot One of the draw. Their manager is Leonid Slutsky who took over the Russian National team for the 2016 Euros.
Spurs will then have back to back fixtures against Bayer Levekusen, travelling to Germany first. This is likely to be Tottenham’s hardest fixture, with the German team finishing third in the Bundesliga. Again this fixture is timely for Spurs. By having the hardest fixture in the middle means that if it was to go wrong for Tottenham they have two fixture to fix it. On top of this if they win the following two fixtures it will help them gain momentum going into the knock-out stages. This also works for going into the Bayer fixture, assuming Spurs win against Monaco and Moscow, they will gain that winning momentum going into their hardest two fixtures.
Tottenham have only faced the German side once. This was in the 2006/07 season and Spurs clinched a 1-0 win away from home in the UEFA Cup. Tottenham will then going to Monaco before hosting Moscow for the final fixtures of the group. Last season when Tottenham face Monaco in France they endured a frustrating 1-1 draw. Meanwhile, the Lilywhites have never faced CSKA Moscow.
A full strength Tottenham team would match anybody in their group, however previous Europa League campaigns under Mauricio Pochettino, suggest that the Argentine could rest players. With the caliber of the Champions League, even with a slightly easier draw it will be a lot harder for Pochettino to get away with this, yet the demanding nature of the Premier League means that there is no space for Pochettino to leave out players on the weekend.
A key thing for Tottenham’s success will be how Pochettino manages his squad. The addition of Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen will for sure help Tottenham but there is still a gap in quality in other areas of the pitch. Yet with these fixtures, Tottenham should be disappointed to not make it to the knockout stages.