Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Benfica - Tottenham Preview: Spurs face tough task to seal Europa League progression

Benfica battle Tottenham in the UEFA Europa League
Tottenham can alleviate the growing pressure on Tim Sherwood by sealing a comeback against Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday.

Spurs head coach Sherwood has come under fire following three successive defeats in the past fortnight, including a 3-1 loss to Jorge Jesus' side in the first leg of their last-16 tie at White Hart Lane last Thursday.

That setback was sandwiched between a 4-0 rout at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before Tottenham suffered north London derby heartbreak in a 1-0 home loss to rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Sherwood will now seek solace in this week's second leg, but the visitors face a difficult task in overturning the deficit at Estadio da Luz.

Benfica are unbeaten in 10 European home games, their last loss coming in a 2-0 setback to Barcelona in 2012 in the Champions League group stages. The Portuguese team have also yet to taste defeat on home soil in the Europa League in 16 outings since the competition replaced the previous Uefa Cup format in 2009.

The fixture will carry extra spice from the first leg after Sherwood accused Jesus of showing "a lack of class" after the pair clashed on the touchline.

Despite Tottenham's recent setbacks, winger Andros Townsend is confident of progressing to the quarter-finals.

"It's another big game on Thursday. There is still a lot to play for," he told the clubs official website.

"We've got nothing to lose. We're two goals behind from the home leg, so we can go there, have a go and see what happens."

In contrast to Tottenham's woes, Benfica have been seemingly unstoppable and have not tasted defeat in any competition since a 1-0 loss to Olympiakos in the Champions League at the start of November.

Only once have Benfica been beaten in the Primeira Liga this season and their march towards the title shows no signs of stopping, with second-placed Sporting Lisbon seven points adrift.

Both sides have a centre-back suspended, with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Benfica's Silvio the players to miss out.

Younes Kaboul is also a doubt with a knock, which potentially leaves Sherwood without a first-team centre-back as Michael Dawson (hamstring) and Vlad Chiriches (back) are both out.

Benfica - Tottenham Preview: Spurs face tough task to seal Europa League progression Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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