Facing an uphill task in this tie, fifth in the Premier League and uncertainty surrounding the future of their manager and a host of players, where are Tottenham Hotspur heading? Tim Sherwood’s outburst last week highlighted the underlying shortcomings at the club and with his tenure now a false dawn, it seems it will be another season of mediocrity for a club with high standards. Their north London rivals are next up and they’ll need to liven up before Sunday because this campaign is in danger of petering out to nothing. Considering the vast amount of money they shipped during the summer, this side are nothing more than average at best and that’s when they’re playing well. A list of distinguished managerial names is constantly banded around but in truth, no tactician could extract consistent performances from this squad without the fatal mistakes they seem to make at every juncture. Defensively inept and futile in attack, these are worrying times for the White Hart Lane faithful and it doesn’t seem likely to get better anytime soon. The boos at full-time emphasised that. The road to redemption and a start could be three points on Sunday but even still, that won’t mask the underlying problems.
Aaron Lennon, Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker all picked up knocks at some stage during the evening with the latter forced off during the second-half. Tottenham are down to the bare bones already with a host of first team players sidelined through injury and with an abundance enduring a barren run of form as well, the prospect of a strong finish to the second is looking increasingly unlikely.
Last season, Benfica were pipped at the post in all three competitions but the late defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League final hurt most after holding their own against Rafael Benitez’s side. It’s a reversal that still wrangles with the players and their manager but with a seven-point lead in the Portuguese league already and an unbeaten record that stretches back to November in all competitions, they’re in a pretty good position to avenge last term’s disappointments. They are a side brimmed with talent from back to front and the fact Nicolas Guitan only was needed to come off the bench with 15 minutes remaining underlines that. Spurs face an uphill challenge in the second-leg to derail Benfica’s quest for European glory.
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