Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Turkey not just for Christmas – Besiktas Preview

Tottenham Hotspur travel to Turkey tomorrow for their first game in the UEFA Cup Group Stage to play Besiktas, a team from the European part of Istanbul. Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü to give them their full name are the oldest club in Turkey, and were originally a gymnastic club, hence the middle name. They play at the Besiktas Inonu Stadium, which Pele allegedly once said had the most beautiful view in the world. It is also the only stadium in the world from which you can see both Europe and Asia - amazing. Anyway, the team are managed by Jean Tigana, formally manager of Fulham and Platini’s midfield sidekick for France. They sit third in the Turkish League with five wins, a draw and three losses from the nine games played, and have Kleberson the Brazilian World Cup winner and failed Man Utd midfielder in their squad. That’s all you need to know about the opposition, more importantly, how are Spurs looking?

Well, it’s the usual story of injuries as King, Dawson and Davenport are all doubts with knee, head and nose troubles respectively. The lack of our young French centre back Dorian Dervitte in the reserve squad the other night suggests that he is going get his first taste of action with the big boys, at least making the squad for the trip. He could be on the bench if only one of the aforementioned three pull through, with big Tony Gardner ready to step in for Ledders or Daws.

The midfield is starting to pick itself with Teemu Tainio, Hossam Ghaly and Steed Malbranque all absent for one reason or another. The main question will be whether Big Martin Jol starts Aaron Lennon, or holds him back on the bench. If it’s the latter then Jenas would play on the right, and the central midfield pairing could well be the same as our last European away game, with Huddlestone and Zokora holding fort. Another run out for Danny Murphy on the left also looks likely, as he slowly begins to look like the guy who won many trophies with Liverpool.

Up front isn’t that easy to call as Defoe and Berbatov started on Saturday, so it could be Keane and Mido this time out, particularly as West Ham’s biggest game of the season is on Sunday, which presumably Defoe would quite like to play in. Berbatov would also have played five games in two and a half weeks if he plays tomorrow, and given he is on the way back from injury expect him not to feature either tomorrow or Sunday.

This is all new territory as far as this Tottenham team is concerned, so a draw or better will be a creditable result. The crowd will be hostile, as the opposition will be, and Spurs will have to match their passion. Class tends to tell over a two leg tie, but this is different and there’s no concept of coming back with an away goal anymore, its points that are needed. The team played well against Villa last week, and there’s no reason why they can’t do the same tomorrow, just so long as we can score, which has been a distinct problem away from home all season.

Fair play to the 500 brave fans making their way to Istanbul, you are a credit to the club. The Waddler is going to have to make do with Channel 5 and John Barnes. Oh dear.

Come On You Spurs!

The Waddler.