Tottenham get their Europa League Conference Group G campaign underway with a trip to Ligue 1’s Rennes.
The Lilywhites are the first English side to participate in UEFA’s brand new club competition, aimed at giving those who don’t usually qualify for Europe the opportunity to pit their wits against similar standard sides from around the continent.
For Spurs fans, this is the unfortunate consequence of a mediocre 2020/21 Premier League campaign that saw qualification for this tertiary competition sealed on the final day of the season.
Now under the leadership of Nuno Espirito Santo, things have started a lot better – although the humbling 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday was a stark reminder of the progress that still needs to be made.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
What time is kick off? Thursday 16 September, 17:45 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Roazhon Park
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 1 (UK)
Referee? Halis Ozkahya
Rennes are far from full strength after losing to Jeremy Doku to a hamstring injury while summer signing Lovro Majer is struggling with a hip problem.
Alfred Gomis is ruled out because he must quarantine and there are concerns over a thigh injury for forward Martin Terrier. Most notably, the Ligue 1 side must now do without Eduardo Camavinga, who would have been the standout name to Tottenham fans once the draw was made – he’s now strutting his stuff for Real Madrid.
Nuno Espirito Santo is without Son Heung-min and Eric Dier, neither of whom have travelled to France with Tottenham’s squad.
Son is still overcoming the calf injury that ruled him out of Saturday’s crushing 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, and Dier sustained a dead leg in that game.
South American trio Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez are also absent because they’ve been training in Croatia for the last 10 days to avoid quarantining; a consequence of their decision to represent Argentina and Colombia respectively against the club’s wishes during the international break.
Rennes: Salin; Traore, Aguerd, Bade, Truffert; Santamaria, Bourigeaud, Tait; Laborde, Guirassy, Sulemana
Tottenham: Gollini; Doherty, Tanganga, Rodon, Davies; Winks, Ndombele, Dele; Lucas, Gil, Kane.
Rennes are undoubtedly Spurs‘ most difficult opponents in the group stages so avoiding defeat will be the number one priority for Nuno.
Players will be rotated and rested to keep fresh for the Premier League, but there should still be plenty of firepower available with Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Bryan Gil all likely to start.
The hosts are missing a couple of key players and haven’t had a great start to the new Ligue 1 season, winning just one of their first five. Don’t expect it to be a thrilling game but do expect Spurs to come away with a narrow win.
Prediction: Rennes 0-1 Tottenham