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UEFA Cup - Group B

Thursday 2nd November 2006

With a lot of Belgian teams, they get through to the latter stages of European competitions, but lack the oomph to go the whole nine yards.  But the reason for this may lie in playing amongst an average bunch of teams in their home league.  It is shame, as sides like Anderlecht, Brugge and Standard Liege have had a good record in Europe, but without regular quality opponents, their level of performance lacks the honing to go head to head with Europe's elite.

They will adopt a 4-4-2 to start with and have the ability to change to five in midfield if they go a goal ahead to preserve the lead and use their pace to break on the Tottenham goal.  While Belgian football is not known for it's flair, Brugge will play the ball comfortably and use the wings to get service into the big forward.

For Tottenham, it will be important to make sure the midfield get behind the ball quickly.  On an attacking front, they will also be mindful that they have to get up and support the front two, so the fitness of Didier Zokora after his recent malarial illness could be key.  With Huddlestone alongside him, to provide the anchor, the pairing could do well alongside Lennon and Jenas.  However, Davids' experience might be favoured or Murphy's nous in European ties.  I would start with Defoe and Berbatov up front, as Defoe seems sharper than Robbie at the moment, while Dimitar has the ability to play the European ties better than Mido at this stage of his Spurs career.  Mido could always be used off the bench.

Like many Belgian teams, there are a couple of African players, who are brought in without the need for work permits, unlike in England.  Manasseh Ishiaku is a strong Nigerian striker, who has scored a few goals, but has tailed off since he joined Brugge.  He looks a bit like Portsmouth's LuaLua, so we will see if he plays like him.  Speaking of Portsmouth, their former defender Brian Priske is in the Brugge side, but I can't really remember him making much of an impact over here, so maybe that will be a good thing for us !! 

There are a few familiar names in their squad.

Joos Valgaeren who formerly played for Celtic and was a very good attacking right back; Phillipe Clement, a veteran 32 year old defender, who was with Coventry City for a season; Bosko Balaban, the Croatian striker who flopped at Villa; with perhaps the most familiar of all being Jonathan Blondel, who escaped back to Belgium as he felt home-sick and wanted to be playing more first team football than he was getting with THFC.  He is now a regular in the midfield and it will be interesting to see how he has come on since his departure.

The experience that Brugge have in Europe might give them the edge over Tottenham, but the performance Spurs turned in against Besiktas must be repeated to show the Belgian side that we are still a force to be reckoned with.

Perhaps this will be our real introduction to European football and it will be tougher than anything we have met so far, but with a good performance, I believe that we might end up with the following score.

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Club Brugge  1


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Teemu Tainio (hernia); Calum Davenport (groin); Steed Malbranque (groin); Paul Stalteri (knee); Lee Barnard (foot); Young-Pyo Lee (ankle); 

CLUB BRUGGE :  - (-);


ITV 4 - (live coverage)

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London Radio website -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   3    Club Brugge   1      (Half-time score : 1-1)

UEFA Cup - Group B
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Thursday 2nd November 2006
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,716
Referee :  Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
Weather :  -  Dry, chilly
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

Lennon (Murphy 80)

Berbatov (Mido 80)

Unused subs


Club Brugge :


Maertens (Vandelannoite 80)

Vermant (c)

Balaban (Ishiaku 90)

Unused subs
Van Heerden

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Club Brugge
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 17
Keane 63
Berbatov 73

Club Brugge

Ibrahim Salou 14

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  



Club Brugge

Matondo (foul) 60 


Match Report : -  
A shock start to the game saw Tottenham having to come back from a goal deficit to beat Club Brugge on a  lively and entertaining European night at White Hart Lane.

It was a European night to remember as Spurs turned in a very impressive display against a side with a large amount of experience in European competition.  But the youthful energy and fluent football that Spurs produced eased past the Belgian side in the second half, when they should have been ahead anyway by the break.

Paul Robinson was called into early action as Brugge showed some good passing football that opened Tottenham up at the back.  Having not been a success at Aston Villa, no doubt Bosko Balaban wanted to show English fans what he was all about and his touch released Englebert, who put in a low shot on goal.  The ball took a deflection off the leg of Michael Dawson and ENO had to be sharp in correcting his dive, low to his right, to turn the ball around the post for a corner.

It was a warning for Spurs that went unheeded, as 13 minutes into the match, a good build up from the middle of the park saw the ball played into Ibrahim Salou about five yards outside the box.  With Dawson standing off him, it gave the Brugge striker the opportunity to turn and place his shot high to the left of Robbo's outstretched arm to give the visitors the lead.

By then, Spurs could have been two goals to the good.  With just five minutes gone, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who played well all night, made a run up the left wing, playing in a cross that Maertins appeared to move his hand to and stopped the ball reaching the Spurs players waiting in the area.  Unfortunately, the referee did not agree.  But it did not stop Spurs going forward, with Jermaine Jenas trying to pick his spot with a shot in the eighth minute, but missing the target instead.

Spurs were passing the ball well, as Brugge left space for that to happen as they sought the goal that came through Salou.  It did allow Tottenham to get forward with reasonable ease and when a free-kick was given 35 yards out, Jenas played the ball in straight to Chimbonda's head and as the ball dropped, Dimitar Berbatov hit a well controlled volley past the Brugge keeper Stijner to make it one apiece.  It was the goal of a master goal-scorer and showed exactly what Berbatov is about.  But more than that, his all round performance tonight showed his class.  The ability to hold the ball and to play in team-mates was superb, with his first touch being sublime on most occasions.

With the equaliser in the bag, Tottenham pressed on to threaten the Brugge goal more regularly.  Aaron Lennon was having a field day running at the unsuspecting Belgian defenders.  His nimble footwork left them gasping and a low cross was just behind Berbatov, but the Bulgarian had the presence of mind to take a touch and lay it into the path of Hossam Ghaly.  His shot was taken with him leaning back and a presentable opportunity flew over the bar.  Then Berbatov was felled on the edge of the area, but once more the lenient Spanish ref let it go unpunished, but the ball ran to Jenas, who scuffed his shot that was easily fielded by Stijner.  Ghaly returned the favour for Berbatov with 35 minutes gone, playing a low ball into the six yard box at the near post, but the keeper did well to block the shot from the striker at close range.

Within seconds, the next attack came even closer to a second Spurs goal.  Dawson lifted a ball into the area from the cleared corner and Berbatov showed very good awareness to control the ball on his chest and pass it to the on-running Jenas, whose low shot bounced off the outside of the post and behind with the goalkeeper static.  The last chance of the half fell to Brugge, when Jonathan Blondel, who had a disappointing showing on his return to White Hart Lane, dinked in a free-kick to the chest of Salou and the ball fell to Englebert, who hit his volley well wide from a promising position.

With the half-time break featuring Paul Miller talking about his time at Spurs and more specifically his goal to the backdrop of some stirring footage of the 1984 UEFA Cup final, it gave the Spurs fans something to cheer and the Brugge fans too, as they hatred for Anderlecht shone brightly.  There was even some good natured cheering for each side's first half goals when replayed on the Jumbotron screens.

The second half started with Spurs in the ascendancy.  Zokora, who looked strong despite his recent bout of malaria, played in Keane on the left of the area and from a pretty narrow angle, Robbie tried to beat the keeper at his near post, but Stijner covered it with his legs.  Then Lennon cut inside when the corner was cleared to him and hit a shot that luckily for Brugge hit Maertens and went wide, with another huge slice of luck for the visitors when Dawson's header saw Englebert somehow slice the ball over the bar from just a yard out !!

Although the Brugge goal was living a charmed life, it had to come to an end sometime and did so with a well-crafted goal from Robbie Keane.  A long ball forward saw Berbatov hook a volley straight into the path of Keane on the right and rather than trying to do something clever with it, he hit the ball early straight past the goalie and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.  The goal showed the best of Berbatov's awareness and the best of Keane, when he finishes clinically.

Stijner had saved from Lennon and Berbatov and Aaron curled an effort just wide by the time Dimitar got the third Tottenham goal.  Spurs had been knocking the ball about well, as Brugge had more or less given up any hope they might have had of salvaging anything from the match.  Jenas picked out Ghaly's run on the right wing, with Chimbonda taking a man away by overlapping outside him.  The Egyptian looked up and played a perfect cross for Berbatov to rise eight yards out to head down and home past the Brugge keeper.  It was a really well-worked move that lead to Spurs sealing the win.

With the substitutions coming thick and fast, Assou-Ekotto made a run on the left and played in a low cross, which Brugge sub Vandelannoite almost squeezed past into his own goal, but it went the right side of the post as far as he was concerned.

With two wins out of two, it virtually ensures Tottenham of a place in the next stage of the competition and the remaining matches will be used to push for a top placing in Group B to ensure an "easier" game in the next round and to hone our European experience ahead of tougher challenges.  Bayer Leverkusen will be a tough game and with Dinamo Bucharesti winning against Beskitas, it may be that the Romanians will also give us a test.  With a team performance like this and with the calm passing to keep possession, Spurs might prove a match for any opposition.



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Other scores in the groups :
Group A
Partizan Belgrade (CRO) 1 Livorno (ITA) 1 Thursday
Glasgow Rangers 2 Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 0 Thursday
Group B
Dinamo Bucaresti (ROM) 2 Beskitas (TUR) 1 Thursday
Group C
Braga (POR) 4 Liberec (CZE) 0 Thursday
Grasshoppers (SWI) 2 AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 5 Thursday
Group D
Heerenveen (HOL) 0 Odense BK (DEN) 2 Thursday
Lens (FRA) 3 Osasuna (SPA) 1 Thursday
Group E
Blackburn Rovers 3 Basle (SWI) 0 Thursday
Nancy (FRA) 2 Wisla Krakov (POL) 1 Thursday
Group F
Ajax (HOL) 3 Austria Vienna (AUS) 0 Thursday
Zulte Waregem (BEL) 3 Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 Thursday
Group G
Hapoel Tel-Aviv (ISR) 2 Rapid Bucharesti (ROM) 2 Thursday
Mlada Boleslav (BUL) 0 Panathaniakos (GRE) 1 Thursday
Group H
Celta Vigo (SPA) 1 Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) 1 Thursday
Palermo (ITA) 0 Newcastle United 1 Thursday

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