Having thrashed Crvena Zvezda 5-0 on matchday three of the Champions League, Tottenham travel to Belgrade looking for another vital European victory. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"Red Star have suffered only two defeats in their last 21 (W11-D8-L2) continental clashes as hosts, making 1.71 quotes on a Tottenham triumph particularly off-putting"
Crvena Zvezda v Tottenham
Wednesday November 6, 20:00
Crvena Zvezda remain in contention
Since being stuffed 5-0 by Spurs on matchday three of the Champions League, Crvena Zvezda have sauntered back into domestic dominance. Vladan Milojevic's men have now delivered nine successive triumphs in league and cup action in Serbia by an aggregate 31-5, the latest of which was a cushy 2-0 success away at Proleter Novi Sad on Saturday.
The Red-Whites tend to set-up in their preferred 4-2-3-1 system in the Serbian capital but have the ability to switch to a more defensively-minded 4-1-4-1. The hosts offer an aggressive approach but have ability in the final-third with playmaker Marko Marin, plus forwards Milan Pavkov and El Fardou Ben Nabouhane providing plenty of pace and power.
Crvena Zvezda reached the Champions League group-stage after successfully negotiating qualifying from the first round. The Belgrade boys remain in contention for a place in the knockout stage at the halfway point although a positive performance on Wednesday night against Tottenham is essential with the clubs separated by a solitary point pre-kick-off.
Tottenham toil on their travels again
Tottenham conceded a stoppage-time equaliser at Everton on Sunday in a match marred by a serious injury to Andre Gomes. Spurs pounced on an error in the home defence to break the deadlock just after the hour mark through Dele Alli, but Mauricio Pochettino's men were unable to hold on as Son Heung-min saw red for the challenge on the unfortunate Gomes.
Spurs lacked urgency, invention and ideas for large swathes of Sunday's showdown, firing in just four attempts at Everton's goal with the absence of skipper Harry Kane obvious. Tottenham's top goalscorer didn't travel to Merseyside through illness and must now be considered a major doubt for the quick turnaround and trip to Belgrade this midweek.
Tottenham head to Serbia having triumphed in only four of 15 fixtures across all competitions in 2019/20 (W4-D6-L5), piling the pressure on Pochettino. And with Kane again potentially missing from leading the line, plus obvious concerns over the mental state of Son, the Premier League side could be caught short in attacking areas.
Spurs too short in Serbia
Crvena Zvezda last hosted Tottenham in a European match back in December 1972 in the UEFA Cup and the Serbian outfit are bidding to extend their unbeaten four-game record (W2-D2-L0) against English opposition in European Cup/Champions League action. Indeed, the Red-Whites toppled Liverpool here last term, highlighting their potential threat.
Few teams produce such polar opposite performances and results as Crvena Zvezda 5.609/2 in home and away European encounters. The Serbians have been disastrous on their Champions League travels but caused plenty of headaches to high-profile visitors; as well as beating Liverpool, Napoli were held here and Olympiakos beaten in the past 12 months.
Red Star have suffered only two defeats in their last 21 (W11-D8-L2) continental clashes as hosts, making 1.715/7 quotes on a Tottenham triumph particularly off-putting. Spurs have kept their sheets clean sheet on only three occasions this term and taken top honours just twice in 19 games as guests dating back to mid-January, shipping twice or more 14 times.
Mauricio Pochettino's troops disintegrated on matchday one at Olympiakos and simply cannot be trusted at such skinny odds. The visitors haven't won by a margin of two goals or more on their travels since dispatching Tranmere in the FA Cup back in January and so taking the 1.804/5 on Crvena Zvezda with a +1 Asian Handicap start holds plenty of appeal.
Little value in goals
There have been a total of 104 attempts on goal in Crvena Zvezda's opening three Champions League games this season - Bayern Munich (102) are the only other side to see over 100 shots in their games in the competition this campaign. A small sample of course, but it does suggest goalmouth action will be prevalent in Belgrade on Wednesday night.
Over 2.5 Goals has been chalked up at 1.654/6 and reflects the fact that 11 of Tottenham's 15 fixtures across all competitions in 2019/20 have featured at least three goals. With Spurs potentially missing key players in forward areas, I'm happy to leave the goals markets well alone at prohibitively short prices.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 50.00 pts
Returned: 57.60 pts
P/L: +7.60 pts
Back Crvena Zvezda +1 Asian Handicap at 1.804/5 in Crvena Zvezda v Tottenham