Slavia Prague
(Czech Republic) (Away)
UEFA Cup 1st Round 1st Leg

Thursday 14th September 2006

Yeah, it would've been handy if Routledge or Yeates were still around, just to give us the wing options while Lennon rests.

I believe that utility ace Jamie O'Hara could even do a job there, but is highly unlikely to be involved in our European campaign.  Shame, really, as there are many who aren't exactly covering themselves in glory or proving that they deserve to retain their higher placing in the pecking order, above the unfortunate O'Hara.  I don't know if it's stupidity or sheer stubbornness, but Jol is almost certain to persist with Davids, probably on the left side of a midfield diamond.  I'm beginning to wonder if his contract is one that requires him to be selected whenever fit, as there's absolutely no other reason for his continual selection.  Time will tell.

Jenas, another who's riding close to the wind, will surely remain on the right of that midfield.  Zokora may well remain in the holding role, with Tainio tucked in behind the front two, most likely to be Mido and an undeserving, Robbie Keane. 

Quite where that leaves us against a crack outfit like Slavia Prague, I don't know.

If Davids does feature, we'll be lucky to get a draw over there. 

Isn't it sad that every season, whoever the manager, there's always one player or more that so obviously shouldn't be anywhere near the side, yet is selected week in, week out.  When GG was the chief, we had to tolerate the hapless Stephen Clemence. Where is he now ?  Yeah, exactly.  Then it was Glenda and his shocking loyalty to one Goran Bunjevcevic, one of the worst players ever to wear Tottenham colours.  Hoddle tried him everywhere; at centre-back, left-back, left-wing, and centre-midfield, with the Serb failing dismally in each position.  Hey, God loves a trier, but I couldn't stand Bunjy, especially as his continued presence meant that some of our best prospects at the time, Blondel, Ricketts and Marney, were used sparingly, if at all, and the team suffered big time.  Now, it's happening all over again.

Shocking.  Do the successors ever learn from the mistakes of their predecessors ?

Long term, it pays to give youth a chance or least try out everyone at your disposal, to keep the regulars on their toes.  Look at Aston Villa, where O'Neill has left no stone unturned in his quest to make the Villans a force once more.  Everyone is getting a chance to prove themselves and it's paying dividends. 

Spurs need to change the way they do things, I feel. 

Sure, we were fourth all of last season with the current tactics but there came a time when we did begin to look stale and changes were needed.  Still, here we are.  Back in European competition, we'll all be tuned in and hoping for the best, whoever turns out for us, 'cos it's Spurs.

Come on you Spurs!

S J Wightman.


There is not a lot to say about this one.  One of the sides in the recent history of Czech football who have qualified regularly for Europe and done reasonably well in the Champions League, but have had to shed some of their better players to make ends meet (even though ENIC have a share in the club).  We have two in Cerny and the young striker Pekhart.

They will provide a good test and hopefully it is one that Spurs will rise to.  Slavia will want to take a lead into the away leg and in front of their home fans might be driven on to push forward, which means the speed of our attacks will determine how we fare.  With Lennon in the side I am confident that we can bring home a result and Jol, along with the other members of the side who have European experience, will know that the away goal will be important.  Let's hope it is more than one.

Defensively, with King back in the back four I feel more comfortable and with the full backs wanting to push on, I think this will improve the service to the front two, who I hope are Mido and Defoe.

A first taste of Europe for several years, which I hope will end sweetly ...

PREDICTION : -  Slavia Prague  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2





Channel 5 - (live coverage)  kick off 7.00 p.m. (UK time)
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Slavia Prague   0   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 0-1)

UEFA Cup First Round 1st Leg
Venue : -  Evzena Rosickeho stadium (a.k.a. Strahov stadium)
Thursday 14th September 2006
Kick Off :  19.00 p.m. (UK time)
Crowd :   14,869
Referee :  Herve Piccirillo (France)
Weather :  -  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
Slavia Prague :

Vorel (Kozacik 28)


Janda (Necas 72)

Gaucho (Fort 62)

Unused subs

Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

Huddlestone (Davids 72)

Defoe (Keane 78)

Unused subs

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Slavia Prague

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Slavia Prague


Tottenham Hotspur

Jenas 38

Cards : -  
Slavia Prague

Gaucho (foul) 34


Tottenham Hotspur 

Assou-Ekotto (foul) 39 


Match Report : -  
It is a long time since the Lilywhite shirt graced Europe and it will have to wait another two weeks, as Spurs overcame Slavia Prague 1-0 in the chocolate and gold change kit on a humid Czech night.

In truth, it wasn't as great a performance as it was seeing Tottenham back in the UEFA Cup after a break of seven years.  Slavia are a young, but poor side and with a bit more cutting edge, Spurs should really have put them to the sword.  However, deprived of Berbatov and Lennon, Spurs managed to put together a showing that was enough to win the leg and keep a clean sheet.  That was not too hard, with Slavia not getting in on Tottenham's goal until halfway through the second half to make Robinson make a save.  Having said that, it was not a great attacking performance from Spurs, who had few clear chances, but should have travelled back to London with more than one goal to show for their endeavours. 

It was about time we saw Tom Huddlestone in the midfield, but somewhat surprising that he was preferred to Dutchman Edgar Davids.  And it was also pleasing to see Didier Zokora taking a grip on midfield and dictating play, although there was little opposition to his promptings.

With Mido and Defoe up front, both closed down quickly, while both also took a bit of a bashing from the physical Czech defence.  Mido put in a low left wing cross early on, but Defoe could not get to it, while it took 23 minutes before the home side caused a little concern in the Tottenham back four.  A high headed ball into the area brought Paul Robinson out to punch clear. 

Robbo's opposite number Vorel had to leave the pitch five minutes later, when he collapsed after taking a goal-kick.  He had pulled a groin and after the Paraguay World Cup match, Paul must be thinking he is being protected from such maladies.  The keeper had to leave the pitch, allowing the young Kozacik to take over between the posts and his naivety showed as he rushed out for crosses and dropped the ball.  Nerves seemed to be getting the better of him.

He made a very good save, when a corner was played long to Chimbonda, whose header back across goal was well pushed out by the goalie.  Not so good was Brazilian striker Gaucho's tackle on Huddlestone, which might well have been worth a red, with his studs being in contact with Tom's shin.  Huddlestone came back on, clearly limping, but wanting to carry on.  Then in the 38th minute, Tottenham took the lead.

It was Huddlestone who broke down a Slavia attack, with a pass out to Mido, the Egyptian laid it off for Zokora to take on.  His long run was only ended, when he played a well weighted pass to the space in front of Jenas' run and without hesitation and not breaking his run, struck the ball first time, low and true into the bottom left corner of the net.  It was a well-taken goal, with Jenas striking the ball in textbook fashion, across the keeper to make it difficult for him to save.

Going in at half-time with a lead, Tottenham looked satisfied with their efforts, but the lead was almost doubled soon after the restart.  Zokora again made his presence felt, providing a good run and a controlled cross for Defoe to meet with his head, but Kozacik was there to save without too much trouble.

As the game changed to the other end, Gaucho put a pacy free-kick in, with a Slavia head getting to it, but unable to direct it goalwards.  It was the start of a period of home pressure for about ten minutes, but few real moments of panic came Tottenham's way.  Hrdlicka got the ball as a clearance reached him and fired in a return effort, but Michael Dawson brought out a trademark block to stop it reaching Robinson.  On the hour, the same player picked up a fluffed shot by Vlcek and curled a shot on goal from 25 yards that flew three yards wide of Robbo's right-hand post.

As the pressure mounted, a free-kick from 20 yards in the 68th minute was hit well by Hrdlicka, but Robinson got to it at full strength and pushed it wide low down after it cleared the wall.  Robbo had to be quick in getting up to then keep out Vlacek's follow-up at his near post.

The substitutions started to become more frequent and this disrupted the play, but Spurs did well out of them.  With nine minutes left, Robbie Keane found a pass through the defence and Edgar Davids was just short of getting their before Kozacik.  Then, with three minutes left on the clock, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who had a good game, threw in to Jermaine Jenas who put Keane through on goal and again Kozacik was sharply out at his feet.

That was the last meaningful action and the players saluted the Spurs crowd who were gathered behind each goal (as well as a few others sprinkled around the ground) and the fans saluted the players.  The flags of Spurs fans all over the country were displayed in the Czech capital to show how determined the travelling band were to let the world know that Tottenham were back.  Their vocal backing and with the help fo the drum, they drowned out the loudspeaker cheerleader of the Slavia fans.

With a better performance in a fortnight at the Lane, there could be even more to shout about.


Sparky Marky



Reaction : -



Ah, how sweet it is to be vindicated.  You heard it here first, as I said that Zokora and Huddlestone would be a hit together in midfield, so it proved to be.  With the Thud making cool interceptions and some exquisite passes from deep, it gave Didi the freedom of the pitch, where he could bomb forward at will and track back safe in the knowledge that Tom was keeping it very tidy. 

Zokora was tremendous tonight, full of energy, industry, invention and aggression, the way he made the chance for Jenas was exciting to see.  You sense that we'll be seeing plenty more of that this season, perhaps on Sunday too.  The only thing missing from his game, like Carrick, appears to be goals, but with the way he bombs forward, that could all change. 

As for the goal-scorer, I think that he might just have had his best game in a Spurs shirt, as he finally looked to be well worth 7m or more.  Granted, Slavia were incredibly poor for a team that hasn't been out of European competition for 20 years, but Jenas still knocked it out and turned it on in a way that most Spurs aren't used to seeing.  It seemed to me that, with no Davids, Jenas looked far more comfortable and uninhibited. 

I hate to say I told you so, but ...

We also saw the return of 'Tiger' Tainio, albeit in an unfavourable position wide left, which he tackled commendably.  That midfield finally looked like a real midfield and I think you know why that is.  When the 'Pitbull' finally did make his cameo appearance, in which he didn't do much
of anything, I couldn't help but wonder if it would've been a more worthwhile exercise to have brought O'Hara along instead.  What would be more beneficial to the future of the club ?

I thought that we played a lot better tonight than against Sheffield United, where we supposedly put on a master-class.  The defence was rock-solid, especially Chimbonda, who's really making a mug out of me.  He's a hell of a lot better than I thought he was, really classy, and I'm glad we got him instead of Alves.

Assou-Ekotto was another who did well and had his best game for us yet.  He's improving all the time and may turn out to be one of the bargains of the season.

King and Dawson were imperious, as ever, and very little got past them.  Robbo was hardly troubled but his double-save at the end showed why he's England's Number One.  Given time, this backline could become one of the best in the Premiership.

In attack, it wasn't so good but it's always difficult away from home, when service is scarce, and the impetus is mostly to defend.  Having said that, Mido and Defoe aren't really a good partnership  and you'd expect Berbatov, once fit, to walk right back into the side.  Just who's going to partner him is another matter.

Keane looks well out of sorts at the moment and missed a great one-on-one chance late on to put the tie out of reach for Slavia.  Mido worked ever so hard tonight, but still looks short of match sharpness, as a few misplaced passes showed, while Defoe also worked tirelessly before being subbed in the 75th minute.  The England man probably looks the sharpest of the three and most likely to score, so should keep his place.

Overall, I'm really happy with Spurs tonight and should've known better than to question our man MJ and his decision making.  He must know that Davids is finished but wanted to give him every opportunity to show him otherwise.  I can see that now, plus they go way back, so was doing him a favour I guess.  But now Jol knows that Thud is ready to fill Carrick's shoes, we should see less of Davids, even from the bench because Lennon will be back for the Fulham game.  I greatly overestimated the opposition but it was still a good game, very entertaining and we were solid, so it's all good tonight. Bring on Fulham.

S J Wightman

What a joy to see the boys running out in Europe once more.  It had been far too long, but they did well, although this will be another learning process for them.  Without Berbatov, Stalteri, Lee and Davids (to start with), the team were left with little European experience between them.

Their spells of possession football were good to see, as this will be needed at times in this campaign to kill off the home crowd and to tire the opposition.  The times when moves broke down because of the loose passing will have to be quickly remedied or better teams will surely make sure it pays for them.

The most pleasing aspect of the game was the pairing of Huddlestone and Zokora in midfield.  As predicted, strong and good on the ball, they will be a formidable pairing when the other side line up to face them.  Zokora lasted the pace, while Huddlestone faded. with the Ivory Coast star running long distances with the ball for fun and putting in crunching tackles.

The back four held firm against a spell of second half pressure, with Robinson keeping out the most dangerous shot from Hrdlicka's free-kick and the shot from the rebound by Vlacek.  King was imperious again, Dawson very solid alongside him, with Chimbonda strong on the right and Assou-Ekotto sprightly on the right.

Criticism of the front two was unfair, as the service was not great, but they stuck to their task and battled away.  Defoe managed to turn well and fire a shot over the bar, while Mido dropped out wide to take on the full-backs and put the ball into the box.

For all the slagging that Jenas gets, he showed tonight what he can give the team.  Lots of effort, some touches which don't come off (but not as many moan when Robbie Keane does the same) and a goal breaking forward from midfield.  His low shot was arrowing past the substitute keeper from the moment he strode up to it.  His energy over 90 minutes alongside Zokora showed a nice complementary mix.

Jol set out the team to do a job and while he might have desired at least another goal, it was job done and back at White Hart Lane we might see a more attacking Spurs.  The first objective of reaching the group stage is halfway achieved.

Sterling Performance

For fans' photos of their trip to the Czech Republic, click here.


Other scores this round's first leg matches :
Achnas (GRE) 0 Lens (FRA) 0 Thursday
Artmedia (HUN) 2 Espanyol (SPA) 2 Thursday
Atromitos (GRE) 1 Sevilla (SPA) 2 Thursday
Atvidaberg (SWE) 0 Grasshoppers (SWI) 3 Thursday
AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 3 Kayserispor (TUR) 2 Thursday
Basel (SWI) 6 Rabotinicki (MAC) 2 Thursday
Besiktas (TUR) 2 CSKA Sofia (BUL) 0 Thursday
Braga (POR) 2 Chievo (ITA) 0 Thursday
Chornomorets (UKR) 0 Hapeol Tel Aviv (ISR) 1 Thursday
Derry City (IRE) 0 Paris St. Germain (FRA) 0 Thursday
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 1 Auxerre (FRA) 2 Thursday
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) 4 Brondby (DEN) 0 Thursday
Fenerbahce (TUR) 2 Randers (DEN) 1 Thursday
Heart of Midlothian (SCO) 0 Sparta Prague (CZE) 2 Thursday
Hertha Berlin (GER) 2 OB Odense (DEN) 2 Thursday
Levadia (EST) 0 Newcastle United 1 Thursday
Legia Warsaw (POL) 2 Austria Magna (AUS) 2 Thursday
Liberec (CZE) 2 Red Star Belgrade  (SER) 0 Thursday
Livorno (ITA) 2 Pasching Superfund (AUS) 0 Thursday
Locomotive Moscow (RUS) 2 Zulte Waregem (BEL) 1 Thursday
Locomotive Sofia (BUL) 2 Feyenoord (HOL) 2 Thursday
Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 1 Litex Lovich (HUN) 1 Thursday
Marseille (FRA) 1 Mlada Boleslav 0 Thursday
Molde (NOR) 0 Glasgow Rangers (SCO) 0 Thursday
Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 Zaporizhya (UKR) 1 Thursday
Partizan Belgrade (SER) 4 Groningen (HOL) 2 Thursday
Rapid Bucharest (ROM) 1 Nacional (POR) 0 Thursday
Rubin (RUS) 0 Parma (ITA) 1 Thursday
Ruzomberok (SLO) 0 Club Brugge (BEL) 1 Thursday
Salzburg (AUS) 2 Blackburn Rovers 2 Thursday
Schalke 04 (GER) 1 Nancy (FRA) 0 Thursday
Sion (SWI) 0 Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 0 Thursday
Standard Liege (BEL) 0 Celta Vigo (SPA) 1 Thursday
Start (NOR) 2 Ajax  (HOL) 5 Thursday
Trabonspor (TUR) 2 Osasuna (SPA) 2 Thursday
Vitoria Setbual (POR) 0 Heerenveen (HOL) 3 Thursday
West Ham United 0 Palermo (ITA) 1 Thursday
Wisla Krakow (POL) 0 Iraklis (GRE) 1 Thursday
Xanthi (GRE) 3 Dinamo Bucharest (ROM) 4 Thursday


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