Three key battles in Tottenham v Fiorentina
Gregor Vasconcelos takes a look three key match-ups at White Hart Lane on Thursday
Salah v Rose
Mohamed Salah could have hardly enjoyed a better full debut at Fiorentina on Sunday. Within 35 minutes of his first start, he had already bagged himself a goal and an assist in his side’s 3-1 away win at Sassuolo. First, he raced clear of the defence to latch on to Khouma Babacar’s back-heel to score. A couple of minutes later, he returned the favour, sending his team-mate clear with a through-ball. After a nightmare year at Chelsea, in which he started only 10 games and scored two goals, Salah will be keen to impress. He’s already helped Basel knock Spurs out of this competition two seasons ago, with a goal in the 2-2 draw in Switzerland. Danny Rose will have to be on his toes to keep the tricky Egyptian at bay.
Kane v Savic
People can’t keep quiet about Harry Kane at the moment, and for good reason. He has scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, including five in his last three games. In the Europa League, he has managed six goals in five starts, including a hat-trick against Asteras Tripoli. It was this competition that gave Kane the springboard to today be Europe’s most prolific centre-forward and he will want to continue his fine European form on Thursday night. Only Juventus and Roma have conceded less goals than Fiorentina in the Serie A, and La Viola will be much sterner opposition than anything Spurs have encountered in this competition so far. While they have rested some key players in the group stage, they will recall some of them on Thursday night. Stefan Savic is a must, to give them needed stability at the back to contain Kane. Braces against Arsenal and Chelsea, though, suggest that Kane has what it takes to beat the Italians.
Eriksen v Valero
Christian Eriksen’s influence is ever-growing, so keeping him out of the game will be a difficult mission that is likely to be assigned to Borja Valero. The Dane has the knack of coming up with the goods even when not performing at his best, be it via a free-kick or a late goal. He has 11 goals already this season, so taking an eye off him even for a second could destroy Viola’s game plan. For that reason, Valero will have to curb his more natural attacking instincts to make sure his counterpart’s influence is stifled. The problem for him is, even if he excels at his job, a free-kick on the edge of the box could see it all come crumbling down.