Tuesday October 18th 19.45 GMT
The German team have had a patchy start to their season. Their three league wins have been somewhat nullified by their three league losses with both sets of results sandwiching a solitary draw. Bayer were in generous mood at the weekend, handing Werder Bremen only their second win of the season – not exactly ideal preparation for this Spurs side.
Prior to the weekend, the London side were on the back of a five match winning run with the jewel of the crown being their 2-0 win over supposed champions elect, Manchester City. No mean feat, that. However, the international break looks to have taken some steam out of their locomotion as evidenced by a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, a late Delli Ali goal required to split the points.
Spurs looking to break from the pack
Likely, though, it wasn’t so much the international break that hobbled them but more the thought of this particular tie. After a shock defeat to Monaco in round 1, Spurs took all three points away to CSKA Moscow, a result which sees them second in the group after two games with just a single point separating each consecutive place. Therefore, a positive result here is quite desirable in their quest to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Spurs’ big worry after Harry Kane picked up an injury was quite where the goals would come from. In his dashing, WWII fighter pilot-esque absence, young Son Heung-Min (who was rested at the weekend) took up the net-bulging mantle and eases those concerns. But unfortunately for them, their match against West Brom saw them lose arguably the best centre back in the league in the shape of Toby Alderweireld. His partnership with Jan Vertonghen has seen them concede just four goals in the league and that solidity will be missed in what will be a difficult away game.
The old gun slinger
The task is all the more difficult given the form of Bayer’s little pea, Javier Hernandez. The diminutive Mexican is one of an increasingly rare breed in football these days – the out and out poacher. Teams nowadays tend to demand a much broader range of skills from their forwards, leaving the old-school hatchers and their atomized abilities out in the cold. But by god, Hernandez loves to score and if there’s a ball bobbling around Spurs’ six yard area, there’s a bloody good chance that he’ll score.
Although their last league outing ended in an away loss, the match prior to that saw them beat the mighty Dortmund two goals to nil. They are confident at home and present a sizable threat to Spurs’ ambitions. The English side will have to do their best in Alderweireld’s absence and luckily their summer acquisition, Victor Wanyama, has settled successfully in the defensive midfield role. He’ll need to keep his wits about him tonight. The bookies make Bayer favourites at about evens but this column reckons a draw by way of a pulsating