DEBUTANT WLB contributor Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the odds as Tottenham travel to Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday night in the Champions League.
Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham | Wednesday 6th November 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
Tottenham travel to Serbia on the back of an uninspiring 1-1 draw at Everton and a poor start to 2019/20 but with their season, certainly on the European front at least, far from over.
The 5-0 win over Red Star in the last Champions League matchday lifted Spurs to second in the group, one point ahead of their opponents who struggled to deal with the home side’s attacking movement as Mauricio Pochettino matched up Vladan Milojević’s trusted 4-2-3-1 to devastating effect.
However, as poor as Crvena Zvezda are on their travels, they are a different beast in front of their own supporters, losing just two of their last 21 European home games and recording a 2-0 win against last season’s eventual champions Liverpoo,l whilst also holding Napoli to a 0-0 draw during that run.
With just 13 goals conceded in those 21 ties (four of which came in one game v PSG), the Serbian champions have proven tough to break down in the cauldron that is the Rajko Mitić Stadium, making life difficult for Europe’s elite with such an intimidating atmosphere.
Red Star are tricky hosts
Add to this Tottenham’s away day troubles – just two wins in their last 20 competitive matches – and I would expect this game to be lot tighter than the match at White Hart Lane a few weeks ago, which brings into play the Asian Handicap lines. Red Star +1 sits at 19/20 with Unibet at the time of writing.
This price especially appeals as the home side know that a point or better in this match, assuming Bayern Munich will dispatch Olympiakos in the other game in the group, would all but guarantee at least a third place finish and a spot in the Europa League knockout stage.
Tottenham do however have the quality to see off the Red-Whites if the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, who bagged four of the five goals in the reverse fixture, can be similarly as lethal in front of goal against a side that concedes a lot of shots at this level.
Spurs’ chances of avoiding an upset though may depend on their ability to deal with Red Star’s aerial threat, the Belgrade sitting second out of the 32 teams in the group stages for completed crosses (19 in total).
Prop markets appeal
With too many question marks on the outrights, a delve into the prop markets appeal.
Although Red Star have the best disciplinary record in the Serbian League it’s a different story when it comes to Champions League football, receiving 5, 6 and 5 yellow cards respectively in their last three home European games as they adapt to playing with far less of the ball than their domestic games which they often dominate from start to finish.
A man I’ve looked at closely is Nemanja Milunovic. The 30 year-old has picked up four yellows and a red card in his Champions League appearances this season and at 6ft 3, certainly isn’t afraid to get involved in the physical side of game.
The red card he was given resulted from an elbow in a qualification game against Copenhagen and the centre-back was booked for a bad foul in the 5-0 defeat to Spurs so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him enter the referee’s book for a second time in as many games against the same opposition.
If Son plays wide-left of the three behind Kane again, Milunovic will have to deal with the South Korean running at him with the drifting inside such a feature of Son’s game and the Serb regularly plays in the right-sided CB position.
In the game in North London, Milunovic put in four tackles and also completed two against the group’s other top side Bayern Munich so the 11/10 price (SkyBet) on him to have 2+ tackles in the game looks a decent play, especially with Wednesday’s forecasted wet weather in Belgrade being conducive to plenty of slide tackles.
A slightly more risky play is for the defender to complete 3+ tackles at 7/2 but I think it's worth a dabble at the price available.