Spurs can progress, but Juventus the team to beat in Europa League
The Premier League’s reputation and standing in Europe has taken a real battering over the past week with Champions League home defeats for Arsenal and Manchester City followed by Manchester United’s abject performance in Greece. Only Chelsea managed to even score a goal and they still have plenty of work to do in the second leg against Galatasaray.
So now it’s up to Spurs and Swansea to restore some pride in the Europa League and both teams are up against it after failing to secure the desired result in first-leg ties against Dnipro and Napoli respectively.
Spurs will be in trouble if Dnipro can nab an away goal to add to the late penalty they scored in Ukraine, but Tim Sherwood’s team surely won’t spurn as many chances as they did in the away leg and should not only justify Coral’s price of 8/15, but do so with enough to spare to qualify for a last-16 round tie, probably against Benfica.
Jermain Defoe has scored five goals in the competition so far and will be missed, but Spurs still have enough firepower throughout their side to take care of business against spirited, but inferior, opposition.
You can’t help thinking that Swansea have missed the boat against Napoli (4/9) after failing to get the rewards their general play deserved in South Wales in the first leg.
Spurs are 10/1 with Coral to win the Europa League outright, but this is beginning to look more and more like a competition destined to be won by Juventus (5/2).
Successful in 21 of their 25 games in Serie A and nine points clear at the top, Juventus shouldn’t have too much trouble getting through to the next round after beating Trabzonspor (just above mid-table in the Turkish Premier League) 2-0 in the home leg.
They are then likely to face Fiorentina in the last 16, but will fancy their chances against a team 21 points behind them in fourth place in the Italian top-flight.
With midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba pulling the strings and Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Arturo Vidal (35 goals between them in Serie A this season) banging them in, ‘The Old Lady’ is a formidable unit. And if that isn’t enough, the Europa League final is to be played at their own stadium in Turin, a massive incentive for everybody connected with the Italian giants.