HOW will Tottenham cope just three days before their League Cup final appearance at Wembley? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) examines their Florence showdown.
Fiorentina v Tottenham | Thursday 18.00 | BT Sport 2
Fiorentina welcome Tottenham to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Thursday night for the second leg of their Round of 32 match, confident they can secure a passage to the next round. Vincenzo Montella’s men brought a vital away goal back to Florence, where they’re unbeaten against English opposition.
We correctly called Both Teams To Score in the White Hart Lane meeting and although Spurs took a deserved sixth-minute lead through Roberto Soldado, the La Viola recovered well before equalising through Jose Basanta 30 minutes later. That second-half display from the Florentines has encouraged Montella, who’s well aware the scheduling may force his counterparts hand.
Visiting boss Mauricio Pochettino must decide whether to field the influential Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen at the Franchi, or keep his powder dry ahead of Sunday’s Capital One Cup final. Poch chose to field a strong XI last week, probably in the hope of travelling to Italy with an advantage, but his team ran out of ideas and gas once Montella tinkered with his team’s formation.
The home boss is expected to rotate, as he has done throughout Fiorentina’s continental campaign. La Viola will have to do without midfielder Borja Valero and goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu as the pair picked up injuries in training but there’s plenty of quality within their ranks and there’s no doubt the hosts arrive in better shape.
The Italians may have dropped points against in-form Torino on Sunday but are unbeaten in all competitions since 6th January; a run of form that has propelled the side into fourth place in Serie A, as well as a Coppa Italia semi-final. However, despite their excellent run of results, Montella’s men have found clean sheets hard to come by.
Fiorentina can lay claim to just one shutout in their last 13 outings and even if Spurs do ring the changes, the Londoners have enough about them to get on the scoresheet in Florence. So I’m finding it hard to move away from our first leg position of backing Both Teams To Score. Ladbrokes are offering 3/4 and that looks more than fair.
A whopping 12/14 Fiorentina fixtures have produced winners in this market and the same can be said of 13 of Tottenham’s previous 16 matches. For all their attacking delights, Pochettino’s team rarely defend well enough to shut out their opposition. The visitors have claimed clean sheets in just two of their 13 outings in 2015.
Spurs and Pochettino have received plenty of praise in recent weeks but for me, they certainly can’t be considered a top-four side and there’s no way I’d be backing them to finish in the Champions League places. On Saturday they salvaged a late 2-2 draw at home to West Ham, while a below par performance at Liverpool before virtually handed their hosts the win.
Looking at their results over the past 12 games, Tottenham have only come out on top in five, failing to beat Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Sheffield United in that run of results. I’ve no doubt they’ll have one eye on Sunday’s showpiece Wembley final and so with six wins from their unbeaten 10-game streak, I’ll also stick a quid on Fiorentina winning with Both Teams Scoring at a seducing 17/5 from Bwin.
Fiorentina v Tottenham – Both Teams To Score (3/4 Ladbrokes)
Fiorentina v Tottenham – Fiorentina to win and Both Teams To Score (17/5 Bwin)
Will Spurs ring the changes? Can the White Hart Lane club keep their Europa League campaign alive?
We’d love to hear your views on the game so let us know in the comments box below!