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Tottenham v Apoel Nicosia: Cypriots to draw first blood

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino
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Spurs are going through an uncharacteristically rough patch and against a highly motivated side eager and with plenty to play for, Apoel can score the first goal of the match, says Jamie Pacheco...

"Spurs have conceded first in each of their last five matches. In two of those they went on to win the match which shows some good ‘bouncebackability’ to use a phrase from the previous decade but what it shows is that they’ve been sluggish starters. Apoel are 7/2 to draw first blood and that’s a good bet."

Tottenham v Apoel Nicosia
Wednesday 19:45
Live on BT Sport 3


Plenty for Pochettino to think about

What's going on with Tottenham? Three weeks ago they very much in contention for a Top 2 finish in the Premier League but two losses and two draws later and they're in all sorts of trouble, languishing in sixth and tied on points with Burnley.

Toby Alderweireld's injury coincided with their dip in form and has shown just how important the big Belgian is to them. But that's no excuse. More likely it's been a case of Tottenham putting a huge effort into improving on their woeful performance in the Champions League last season which has resulted in burn-out among some of their key players. The likes of Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane have played almost 20 matches in all competitions and that's starting to show.

It's fair to say Mauricio Pochettino doesn't really trust players such as Fernando Llorente and Moussa Sissoko to play to the same standard as some of those mentioned above despite the hefty transfer fees paid for them.

With first place in the Group guaranteed expect wholesale changes as the big names get a rest. But he might as well play Davison Sanchez. The Colombian was sent off at the weekend and will be banned for the next few league matches.


Cypriots can't stop scoring

Apoel are third in the table in the Cypriot League but are in excellent form right now, winning all of their last five. And bar their narrow weekend win (2-1) they've been scoring for fun: 4-0, 6-1, 3-1 and 4-0 in their other victories.

They're on two points here in the Champions League thanks to two very creditable 1-1 draws with Borussia Dortmund.

And it's all to play for as far as they're concerned. If they lose there will be no Europa League football for them and if they draw, they'll be through if Dortmund lose at Real Madrid, which let's face it, is a distinct possibility. But if they draw and Dortmund draw, they'll be out because the Germans have a superior goal difference.


Short-price Spurs backers could get burnt

Tottenham certainly can't be recommended at [1.24] on a number of grounds. They're just not playing particularly well at the moment and are facing a side hugely motivated to get something from this game while Spurs have nothing to play for here, bar some prize money. Although it should be pointed out that fringe players like Llorente, Sissoko, Harry Winks and Mousa Dembele will be seeing this game as a rare opportunity to impress and convince their manager they should be more involved.

A lay of the hosts is pretty tempting and you could argue the draw even more so at [7.6] but there are other good bets around so neither of the above quite make the cut.


No reason why both teams can't score

Another very tempting bet is the 'yes' option on both team scoring. We've gone through Apoel's good scoring form already and Spurs have really struggled to keep their opponents out of late. It's just one shutout in their last 11, the only clean sheet being a 1-0 win over Palace. And Palace had a few very decent chances in that one, by the way.

Both teams to score might be a good one to include for a Wednesday night acca at even money on the Betfair Sportsbook but again, we can do better than that.


First blood Apoel

Now, here we go. Spurs have conceded first in each of their last five matches. In two of those they went on to win the match which shows some good 'bouncebackability' to use a phrase from the previous decade but what it shows is that they've been sluggish starters.
Apoel are 7/2 to draw first blood and that's a good bet.


Top scorer can get on the scoresheet

There's little or no point trying to pick a Spurs goalscorer with so many doubts over who might play. Llorente probably will as Kane takes a well-deserved rest but 8/11 isn't a great price on a player with so few minutes under his belt and not a single goal from any of his 16 appearances this campaign, although to be fair to the veteran striker, most of those were just 20 minutes here and there.

The man to go with is Apoel's Mickael Pote. The Benin striker is Apoel's top scorer in the league and their only scorer in the Champions League; he scored both home and away against Dortmund. Even if the visitors don't score first, Pote can score at some stage and is priced at 7/2 to do so.


Recommended Bets


1pt Back Apoel Nicosia to score the first goal @ 7/2

1pt Back Mickael Pote to score anytime @ 7/2


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