Tottenham Hotspur can seal their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with victory over Sporting Lisbon this evening, albeit with Antonio Conte’s side having slipped to a 2-0 defeat when the two sides met earlier this season.
That clash away in Portugal notably saw diminutive starlet Marcus Edwards catch the eye against his former club, as Ruben Amorim’s men produced late heroics to clinch a stunning victory, scoring twice at the death to inflict a first defeat of the season on the Lilywhites.
That result set the tone for what has been a mixed group stage journey for the north Londoners thus far, having only narrowly edged past ten-man Eintracht Frankfurt following an underwhelming display in their last European outing.
In what is a fiercely competitive group, Spurs are fully aware that any slip-up could potentially prove costly, as they bid to reach the last 16 for the first time since the 2019/20 season.
Ahead of tonight’s crunch encounter, here’s how we at Football FanCast predict that the home side will line up…
Conte has been dealt a blow ahead of this crucial meeting with both Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison still unavailable, while doubts remain regarding the fitness of Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Cristian Romero after the pair’s absence against Newcastle United on Sunday.
With that in mind, we predict that there will be four alterations from the side that fell to a 2-1 defeat at the weekend, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris set to keep his place despite his role in both goals against the Magpies.
Amid the doubts over Romero, the only change in the backline could see Ben Davies start ahead of Clement Lenglet, while on the flanks Ivan Perisic and Djed Spence could come in for Ryan Sessegnon and Emerson Royal, respectively.
The latter man produced a “dreadful” display against Eddie Howe’s side, according to journalist Josh Bunting, having continued to underwhelm at N17 after “struggling” in his debut campaign last term, as per pundit Alex McLeish.
In midfield, a return to a 3-4-3 formation could see academy gem Oliver Skipp make way, with uncertainty over the aforementioned Hojberg set to Yves Bissouma partner Rodrigo Bentancur in the centre of the park, with the former Juventus man having been a shining light last time out.
A shake-up in attack could see Harry Kane and Heung-min Son joined by Brazilian speedster Lucas Moura, with the “phenomenal” asset – as described by pundit Paul Robinson – in line for a first start of the campaign after stepping up his return from injury in recent weeks.