Tottenham v Apoel Nicosia talking points – Champions League Preview

Tottenham will take the chance to rotate when they host Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Here, we discuss five talking points ahead of the Group H clash at Wembley.

Need rest but need a win too

When Tottenham sealed qualification and first place in Group H by beating Borussia Dortmund last month, this seemed the perfect game to rest key players and prioritise the race for the Premier League title. Since their 2-1 win in Germany, however, Spurs have fallen 18 points behind Manchester City following two draws and a defeat in the league and there is now a case for placing greater importance on getting back to winning ways. Key players will be left out but manager Mauricio Pochettino is still expected to field an experienced team. He will know the value of confidence and momentum.

Alli searching for rhythm

Pochettino has indicated he will rest the likes of Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen, Kieran Trippier and Hugo Lloris, who all sat out training on Tuesday. But he also confirmed Dele Alli would start at Wembley and reasoned the midfielder is fresher than his team-mates, having been banned for the opening three games of the group stage. Also a factor, however, may have been Alli’s form. The 21-year-old has thrown up a series of mixed performances this season – some spectacular, others noticeably poor – and Pochettino will be hoping Alli can regain some consistency, starting against fairly-limited opposition.

Llorente must take his chance

Fernando Llorente
Fernando Llorente is searching for his first goal in a Tottenham shirt (Nigel French/PA)

It cannot be easy performing the role of back-up striker to Kane but Fernando Llorente is in need of a goal. The 32-year-old is struggling for rhythm – after coming on as substitute in 13 of his 16 Spurs appearances so far – and confidence, having failed to score since his summer move from Swansea. Llorente may not be the type of player suited to playing in fits and starts but he is likely to be given a rare opportunity for 90 minutes against Apoel. If he impresses, and finds the net, it will be a huge boost to Pochettino, given Kane may need further rest over the hectic Christmas period.

Rose and Aurier better suited to defensive opposition

Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier could be a key player against Apoel (Mike Egerton/PA)

o make their case.

Apoel have it all to play for

While this is a dead rubber for Tottenham, Apoel can still secure a spot in the Europa League given they sit level on points with Dortmund, who finish away to Real Madrid. Apoel drew both of their games against Dortmund 1-1, meaning head-to-head would defer to goal difference if they end up on the same total. Apoel’s goal difference is currently -12 while Dortmund have -5, which means Apoel would either have to engineer a seven-goal swing or, more likely, better Dortmund’s result at the Santiago Bernabeu. Apoel lost 3-0 at home to Spurs in September.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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