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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Spurs should edge their way to crucial victory

Harry Kane celebrates scoring against West Ham
1 of 1

Champions League
BT Sport ESPN, 7.45pm Tuesday

Tottenham were involved in a thrilling Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund but things could be a lot tighter when they travel to Cyprus to take on Apoel.

The 3-1 victory over Dortmund has put Spurs into a strong qualifying position but with a number of players missing it is worth backing Apoel to stay close to the long odds-on favourites.

Apoel lost 3-0 away to Real Madrid in what was a thankless task at the Bernabeu on matchday one.

The Cypriot champions tried to keep the score down and limited Real to just six shots on target which was a decent effort given the gulf in class between the sides. 

"We are not aiming too high in this group," admitted boss and former Blackburn winger Giorgos Donis afterwards. "But we feel our games at home will be very different than the ones away."

Apoel may be more adventurous at home and they have done well just to reach this stage having seen off Dudelingen, Viitorul and Slavia Prague in the qualifiers, but those six ties produced a grand total of only nine goals.

Donis's side have made a slow start domestically and their last two results have been particularly poor with a 1-0 home loss to Anorthosis followed by a 0-0 draw at Aris on Friday.

Injuries are not helping their cause, although they were always going to struggle to replace departed striker Pieros Sotiriou, who notched 21 league goals last season before being sold to Copenhagen where he is averaging a goal every other match from ten outings.

Apoel barely laid a glove on Real at the Bernabeu and may do likewise in this contest even though Spurs are without banned centre-back Jan Vertonghen.


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Mauricio Pochettino could switch to a back four or use Juan Foyth alongside Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez with Eric Dier sitting just in front.

That's a solid base from which Tottenham will expect to be able to win the game but the absence of Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen leaves Spurs short of inspiration behind Harry Kane.

It was an August to forget for Kane but his double for England in Malta kick-started his campaign and he has netted further braces against Everton, Dortmund and West Ham to make it six goals in his last four club appearances.

Kane is capable of winning this almost on his own but he may need to given those who have been left back in north London.

Recommendation
Tottenham to win by one goal
1pt 14-5 BoyleSports

Team news
Apoel
Facundo Bertoglio and Lorenzo Ebecilio look set to join Zhivko Milanov and George Efrem on the sidelines. Roland Sallai, rested on Friday, is set to return.

Tottenham
Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama are injured. Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli are suspended.

Key stat
Apoel have failed to score in four of their last five matches.


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Apoel may be more adventurous at home and they have done well just to reach this stage
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