Tottenham Hotspur travel to Florence for the return leg of their Round of 32 tie following a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane last week. Roberto Soldado’s opener had given the London side a deserved lead but Jose Basanta headed Fiorentina back in the tie, giving them a slight advantage for the game at Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Spurs have a trip to Wembley in the Capital One Cup final looming over their heads and Mauricio Pochettino has a huge task on his hands to ensure that his players are fit for Sunday’s match against Chelsea while also making sure of progressing to the next round in what will be a difficult match.
Both sides dropped crucial points at home over the weekend as they continue to fight for respective places in the Champions League next season. Fiorentina drew 1-1 against Torino while Spurs staged a two goal comeback to gain a point deep into stoppage time against West Ham.
Elimination may not be seen as the worst outcome by either side as they will get time to focus on the league, though both managers will fight tooth and nail in what promises to be an engrossing battle.
Ciprian Tatarusanu is a doubt with back trouble and Neto could be handed his first start for over two months. Borja Valero is also a doubt having picked up a foot injury in the first leg.
The pair of Federico Bernardeschi and Giuseppe Rossi will definitely miss out.
Pochettino has a fit squad to choose from but with the Capital One Cup in mind, he could field squad players like Paulinho, Ben Davies and Federico Fazio
Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovic, Savic, Gonzalo, Pasqual; Fernandez, Pizarro, Aquilani; Salah, Gomez, Joaquin.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Paulinho, Mason; Chadli, Dembele, Eriksen; Kane.
- The only time Fiorentina faced an English opponent was back in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Cup back in 2007/08 with the Italian club prevailing on penalties against Everton.
- Fiorentina haven’t conceded a goal at home in their four meetings with English opposition, winning thrice.
- Fiorentina are undefeated in their last 10 matches in all competitions.
- Tottenham Hotspur have recorded five wins and a draw in their last six meetings against Italian opposition.
- Tottenham Hotspur have lost just once in their last 10 Europa League matches.
- Tottenham Hotspur have won just once on their travels to Italy, losing thrice.
Fiorentina: Mohamed Salah
The 22-year-old seems to have found a new lease of life in Florence having scored twice already after getting next to no game time at Chelsea in the first half of the season. He gave Fiorentina the lead against Torino and even though his side were pegged back by a late equaliser, the Egyptian winger would be full of confidence when he takes the field against Tottenham on Thursday night.
With star man Juan Cuadrado going the other way, signing Salah seemed like the logical thing to do but even the most ardent of Viola fans wouldn’t have expected such an immediate impact.
“Well, I think we pulled off a bit of coup ourselves in signing Salah,” Montella had said last week. “Salah is a very good player, he is used to playing at this level and although he has only been with us a short while, he has already shown very quickly that he is certainly up to playing very well in Italy and playing well for us.”
Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane
Even though he botched up his penalty against West Ham, the 21-year-old was at hand to convert the rebound and now has amassed 12 goals in his last 11 Premier League matches for Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs’ fine run of late has been since the local boy was selected in the team, mainly due to the woes of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor. His incredible rise has undoubtedly put him in line for a first England cap towards the end of next month, and Spurs’ fate in the Europa League will also rely on his shoulders to a large extent. They need to get a goal in Florence and who better than their top scorer in all competitions with 22 goals.
It was the Europa League where Kane made his mark before being inducted into the first team in the Premier League and he will be their key man to ensure that their involvement in Europe continues.
Spurs started brightly before running out of steam in the latter stages during the first leg, and Fiorentina will capitalise again if they aren’t careful about their approach. However, they can pull off a narrow away win if they manage the game well.