Tottenham travel to the Stade Gerland to face Lyon on Thursday, for the second leg in their Europa League last 32 tie. Tottenham are protecting a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg and will fancy their chances of making it through to the next round, to play either Inter Milan or CFR Cluj.
The first leg at White Hart Lane was all about one man; Gareth Bale. The Welsh wonder scored two Ronaldo-esque free kicks on the stroke of half time and full time to send White Hart Lane into raptures. The question for Lyon is how do they stop the upcoming match becoming another installment of the Gareth Bale show?
Lyon certainly have some talented players and they will feel slightly hard done by that they are trailing 2-1 on aggregate. They contained Tottenham as an attacking threat for most of the game and were it not for Bale’s set-piece brilliance, Tottenham looked unlikely to score.
The consolation from the last-gasp defeat to Spurs was the fact that Lyon do have an away goal, and if they keep Tottenham out at the Stade Gerland they will fancy their chances. Samuel Umtiti’s wonder goal was simply breathtaking, a volley from the edge of the box that sweetly found the top corner. It is a goal that could prove significant come the final whistle on Thursday.
For Tottenham Manager Andre Villas-boas his love affair with the Europa League continues. He won the competition in 2011 with Porto and is looking to replicate that achievement with Spurs. AVB has yet to taste defeat with Tottenham in the Europa League, but undoubtedly this is Tottenham’s toughest assignment yet. Lyon are second in Ligue 1 and have won all three home matches in this season’s Europa League. Most notably they beat last years runners up Athletic Club 2-1.
Spurs away form in Europe has consisted of three draws. The 0-0 away to Lazio can be considered a good result. However, Tottenham were poor in 1-1 draws with Maribor and Panathanikos and will be looking to gain their first win on the road against Lyon. The betting suggests that this will be another close encounter. Tottenham are favourites at 2/5 to qualify for the last-16, with Lyon a 7/4 chance.
So, once again all eyes will be on Gareth Bale. If he maintains his outstanding form at present Spurs will surely progress, but this looks too close to call. I predict that Spurs will advance but it will be tight and even go to away goals.