This Wednesday night will see Tottenham Hotspur travel to Belgrade for their latest UEFA Champions League fixture to face off with Serbian champions Crvena Zvezda, AKA Red Star Belgrade.
The two sides faced off in London at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium two weeks ago, and that match was largely a one-sided affair; Mauricio Pochettino’s side beat their Serbian opponents 5-0 in probably their best showing thus far in 2019/20.
Red Star still have an opportunity to get through the group stage, though – with 3 points on the board they’re just one point behind Tottenham, and if they can overcome the struggling Premier League outfit this week, there’s every chance they could upset the odds and make the knockout stages.
Date: 6th November 2019
Time: 21:00 (local time), 20:00 (UK time), 01:30 (IST)
Venue: Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade
TV Coverage: BT Sport 2 (UK), B/R Live (US), Sony ESPN (India)
Last 5 Champions League fixtures
Crvena Zvezda: D-D-L-W-L
Tottenham Hotspur: W-L-D-L-W
Head to Head
Tottenham Hotspur: 1 win
Crvena Zvezda: 0 wins
Draws: 0 draws
Crvena Zvezda to win: 19/5
Tottenham Hotspur to win: 4/6
Milan Pavkov to score first: 7/1
Dele Alli to score at any time: 5/2
Can Spurs thrive without Kane?
Harry Kane is undoubtedly Tottenham’s most important player; Spurs often appear to be somewhat toothless without their talismanic striker, and the Champions League is one of his favourite hunting grounds. The England captain has scored 18 goals in 24 games for Spurs in the competition and already has 4 in this season’s 3 appearances.
Current reports suggest Mauricio Pochettino’s side will have to do without him on Wednesday night, though. Kane was withdrawn from Spurs’ clash with Everton on Sunday due to an unspecified viral infection, and right now it’s up in the air as to whether he’ll travel to Serbia this week.
Tottenham will undoubtedly miss Kane if he is indeed ruled out, but last season’s run to the Champions League final actually suggests that Pochettino’s men are capable of thriving without him. Kane was injured in Spurs’ 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, and missed the second leg as well as both legs of the semi-final clash with Ajax, and yet Spurs still made it to the final, scoring 6 goals in the process.
So can Lucas Moura, Dele Alli, Heung Min Son and Spurs’ other attacking talents provide Pochettino with the goals his side needs this Wednesday?
Will racism rear its head?
The spectre of racism has reared its ugly head on more than one occasion in 2019/20 already, and there are certainly some fears that issues could arise when Tottenham head to Belgrade to take on Red Star this week. Fans of the Serbian club were actually banned from travelling to London last month for their 5-0 defeat at Spurs due to racist chanting in previous games, although some fans did manage to make it to the game regardless.
And the problem doesn’t seem contained to the fans of Crvena Zvezda – their city rivals Partizan Belgrade have also dealt with a two-match stadium sanction for the racist chanting of their fans, while Serbia’s national team have been ordered to play their next game behind closed doors following racist chanting in their 4-2 defeat to Portugal in September.
With plenty of prominent black players starring for Tottenham – the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko and Danny Rose for instance – it’s definitely a worry, to the point that Mauricio Pochettino has stated that his squad are ready to implement UEFA’s anti-racism protocol if needed.
Let’s hope that isn’t the case.
Tottenham to leave their headphones behind for this trip?
Tottenham have only played Crvena Zvezda once before – their 5-0 victory in this season’s Champions League two weeks ago. They have played Red Star’s city rivals Partizan Belgrade in the past, though – defeating them over two legs in the 2014/15 edition of the UEFA Europa League. The second leg of that tie, which took place at White Hart Lane, also saw one of the most bizarre moments involving Tottenham in recent years.
Spurs won the game 1-0, eliminating their Serbian opponents, but the game was marred by three pitch invasions by fans apparently trying to do some guerrilla marketing on the behalf of headphone manufacturer BassBuds.
One of the pitch invasions caused the match to be stopped for a full 10 minutes, angering fans from both sides, and UEFA were equally disgusted – fining Tottenham €15,000 for the frankly ridiculous incident despite Spurs condemning the actions of the men involved.
Let’s hope the only headphones we see this week are the ones worn by the players prior to the game!Published 04 Nov 2019, 21:54 IST