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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Pacos de Ferreira v Spurs, 19.08.21

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Spurs' record in Europe:-
The official crest of Tottenham Hotspur
U.E.F.A Champions League
 P  W   D   L   F - A
45 19   9  17  82 - 68

(Finalists 2019)
European Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
8   4   1   3  21 - 13
(Semi-Finalists 1962)
European Cup Winners Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
33  20  5   8  65 - 34
(Winners 1963)
UEFA Cup/Europa League
 P    W   D   L   F - A
153  88  37  28  313-134 

(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)

Europa Conference League
 P    W   D   L   F - A
 0    0   0   0   0 - 0 
The official crest of Pacos de Ferreira
 P   W   D   L   F - A
239 131 52  56  481-249

Into the unknown of third tier European football

This will be our first game in the new Europa Conference League, and we must hope that this is our one and only season in the new "third-tier" European competition. It rankles of course that local rivals West Ham a) finished above us last season (for the first time in 13 years) and b) will go straight into the Europa League Group Stage. Before we enter the group phase we must successfully negotiate this play-off meeting with Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira.

Unfortunately UEFA stipulated that no away fans should be allowed in any European qualifying games this pre-season, due to Covid, but I understand this policy will be reviewed after this play-off round. There has also been confusion over whether or not this game would be shown on TV, and on which channel. Initially, it looked as if BT would be showing our away leg, but it has now been confirmed that Premier Sports will be the broadcasting service. Tomorrow's game kicks off at 7.30pm UK time. At this time I couldn't tell you where to find next week's home leg on TV.

One consolation of playing this lower standard would be to finish top of the group, thereby easing our fixture programme by two "knock-out play-off" games in the New year. Group winners go directly to the "Round of 16". Before contemplating that, we must win this tie.

In the third qualifying round Pacos beat Northern Ireland side Larne by a convincing 4-0 scoreline in the first leg which was in Portugal . Their goals were scored by 26-year-old Brazilian Denilson Pereira Junior (2), Canadian-born midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, and finally another Brazilian player Jose Ze Uilton. Larne won the second leg 1-0, but that was nowhere near enough to prevent the Portuguese team from progressing. Their Estadio Capital do Movel stadium holds 9,077 fans and the club was allowed home fans against Larne, so I imagine there will be plenty of support for the hosts tomorrow.

Pacos Ferreira qualified for this competition after finishing fifth in their league last season. They first qualified for European competition (UEFA Cup) in 2007, losing in the first round to AZ Alkmaar. Two years later Pacos made it to the Europa League qualifiers, but were eliminated at the third qualifying round stage. One of their opponents was Zimbru Chisinau, who we met in the UEFA Cup in 1999. Since then the "Pacenses" (those from Pacos) reached a Champions League play-off game in 2013 and then played in the Group phase of the Europa League. They finished a poor third to Fiorentina and Dnipro, who were then managed by former Spurs manager Juande Ramos, who was the last Spurs manager to win a trophy, of course! We played and beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in that season's Round of 32. The team does not seem to be competing under the same identity these days.

Pacos are coached by 45-year-old Portuguese Jorge Simao, who has recently been appointed after a one season term in Belgium with Excel Mouscron, which does not appear to have been a success. There have been two league games so far in Portugal's Primeira Liga and Pacos have won one and lost one, losing on Monday away to Boavista. Spurs have never met this team, whose squad is naturally dominated by Portuguese players with 9 Brazilians in their squad.

We face something of an unknown quantity then, but at least our coach knows plenty about Portuguese football and its history! Harry Kane was mentioned in the media this week as being named in our 25-man squad for this play-off tie (Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier were not), but I am sure Nuno will play a fairly strong side and not under-estimate our opponents. New signings Bryan Gil, Cristian Romero and Pierluigi Gollini have travelled and I also spotted Giovani Lo Celso, Matt Doherty and Ben Davies. Dane Scarlett and Nile John also appear to be in the travelling party. Scarlett is likely to be given a start. Kane was not expected to travel and indeed he has just tweeted from the Spurs training ground (16.11 18/08/21) "Another session in the bank". Harry's post was not greeted with unanimous approval.

If Larne can beat this side then whatever team we put out ought to beat them comfortably. I'll go for a 3-0 lead to bring home. Remember the away goals rule has been cast aside this year in all European competition, but I don't think we'll have to worry about the scores being level next week at the end of 90 minutes. I'll let you know the situation in next week's preview! I will view the game and provide a match report.

We have encountered match referee Maurizio Mariani on one previous occasion. That was last year's Europa League Matchday Two fixture away to Royal Antwerp which we lost 1-0. We must hope for a better result tomorrow. Signor Mariani has refereed various European and International games over the last year. Most recently he was in charge of a Europa League qualifier between Rapid Vienna and Anorthosis.

Did Champions League Defeat Hit Spurs Harder Than Anyone Imagined?

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