Champions League Preview: Olympiacos v Tottenham Hotspur

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Olympiacos
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Serge Aurier of Tottenham Hotspur is challenged by Andros Townsend of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 14, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur will this week be launching their Champion’s League this week on the road against Greek stars Olympiacos.

Preview: Olympiacos v Tottenham Hotspur

Build-up

Following an emphatic win on Saturday over London neighbours Crystal Palace, fans and club will be looking to improve on last year’s group stage which saw them gift Inter Milan a victory by conceding two late goals to the Italians.

Despite being eventual runners-up in the competition overall, Mauricio Pochettino will demand no less than three points from his stars. He will also want to take more than one point from their first three games as was the case last year. It is also a task that involves a home match against Bayern Munich in a couple of weeks.

Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over Palace has gone some way to overshadow the disastrous home defeat to by Newcastle United. An horrendous performance was somewhat compensated by taking an away point from Manchester City at the Etihad. It took a brace from Son Heung-Min, and one each from Harry Kane and Serge Aurier to put the Lillywhites back into the top four.

Will Aurier Put Spurs Right Back on Form?

Pochettino was delighted with both Son Heung-Min and more poignantly Serge Aurier. Not only did the controversial defender grab a goal, but he also put in a much-needed firm shift in the right-back position.

Aurier has been more famous for his blunders and tempestuous behaviour since his arrival at the club. Following the transfer of England ace Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid, and the drop in form and inexperience of Davinson Sanchez, the right-back position has been a problem.

With the much-needed return of the stoic Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at the top of his game, a happier Spurs defensive ship sails to Greece this week.

Christian Eriksen, despite the constant rumours of his contract renewal and an imminent move, will feature as likely will Erik Lamela, who also put in an impressive shift against Crystal Palace. The Argentinian has struggled over the last eighteen months with both hip surgery and recovery. Pochettino’s faith in his compatriot paid off, as Lamela chased every ball and took some decent corners, an area in which Spurs fail.

Pochettino: “I Will Try and Be Creative on Wednesday.”

The two teams have met only twice before, 47 years ago in the UEFA Cup. Spurs won easily 4-0 at White Hart Lane, however, lost by a single goal to Olympiacos at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

With Bayern Munich and Red Star Belgrade to face in Group B, Tottenham are aware that an away win in Greece will settle their nerves and bag a valuable three points. Mauricio Pochettino revealed to reporters that with the fixture congestion of the Premier League and the Carabao Cup, it’s likely there will be some rotation for the Greek clash.

He said, following the Palace victory: “We are, after Saturday, going to play many games. I’m going to rotate the squad and the team. I will try to be creative on Wednesday.”

Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Oliver Skipp were unused substitutes on Saturday, so could feature in the first eleven. With the options of Kyle Walker-Peters and Troy Parrot. That still leaves Tanguy Ndomebele, and last year’s UCL hero Lucas Moura in Spurs’ arsenal.

The Greek champions are by no means easy opponents. Their last game saw them demolish newly-promoted Volos 5-0. Spurs fans though will be looking to their players to secure three points from their Champion’s League opener.

Predicted Score: Olympiacos 1, Spurs 3.

Likely first XI: Lloris, Alderweireld, Aurier, Vertonghen, Rose, Winks, Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele, Son, Kane.

Subs: Gazzaniga, Moura, Ndombele, Lamela, Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Davies

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