Setting the scene
Somehow walking away from Saturday evening’s clash against West Ham with three points in a dramatic 3-2 win, Tottenham’s next opponent will be Ligue 1’s Monaco in the Champions League.
The last time the two sides met, things didn’t exactly go to plan for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, as Tottenham lost 2-1 at Wembley, with goals from Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar frustrating the home side and helping Monaco walk away with three valuable points.
In what is an incredibly vital game for Spurs if they want to stand any chance of making it through to the knockout rounds of the competition, the London side will be facing an in-form club, who haven’t lost a game since the 14th of October.
As for the French side, a draw would see them through to the next round, while a win would take them seven points clear of Tottenham, qualify them for the next round and allow them to top the group (providing Leverkusen do not win in Moscow).
One to watch
It might come as a surprise to Tottenham fans who have been so used to seeing him sit on the bench at Chelsea or struggle on the pitch at Manchester United, but Radamel Falcao is back.
At least, he’s scoring goals in France, and by that we mean he’s scored five goals in his last three games as Monaco have won 3-0, 6-0 and 3-0.
None of his strikes have been particularly pretty, all scored from within nine yards, yet it’s that movement and experience in the box Spurs will have to look out for when Monaco attack.
The Colombian star came off the bench against Lorient on Friday night, suggesting Leonardo Jardim was keeping him fresh for the big game on Tuesday night.
As things stand, Monaco have a relatively clean bill of health, with the only notable absentee being central midfielder Joao Moutinho, who hasn’t played since Monaco’s last loss against Toulouse back in October. The Portuguese is back, but unlikely to make an appearance.
The other is winger Nabil Dirar, who hasn’t played since coming off injured after five minutes against Tottenham at Wembley back in September.
Against stronger opposition, Leonardo Jardim has tended to sway towards a solid 4-2-3-1 with two defensive midfielders who usually end up being Fabinho and Tiémoué Bakayoko.
This can then quickly become a 4-4-1-1 if he wants to defend (as shown against Paris Saint-Germain when full-back Djibril Sidibé played in midfield to counter Angel Di Maria), or an attacking 4-4-2 (or 4-2-2-2ish) by bringing on another striker.
However, with this being a game at home, it wouldn’t be surprising if the 4-4-2 was used from the off, with the complimentary Germain-Falcao partnership sent out to test the resolve of Spurs’ resilient defence.
Sport Witness predicted XI: Subasic, Sidibé, Jemerson, Glik, Mendy, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Lemar, Silva, Germain, Falcao.
We decided to ask Ligue 1 expert Andrew Gibney how Tottenham and Pochettino could get revenge on the Wembley result.
His answer? The wings.
He said: “Monaco’s weakest point has to be in behind the full backs. Both Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy are great going forward, but definitely weaker on the back foot.
“Spurs failed to get past the West Ham back line until Son came on at the weekend, and both Kane’s goals came as a result of getting beyond the full-backs.
“Build on that, and Pochettino’s side will have a chance. Let Monaco’s full-backs attack and you are asking for trouble.”