Tottenham have the edge going into their second leg against Fiorentina, and Kevin Hatchard believes the north Londoners will seal their place in the last 16...
"Fiorentina have only won two of their last eight away games in all competitions, and they didn't manage to dominate Spurs in Florence last week."
Tottenham v Fiorentina
Thursday February 25, 20:05
Live on BT Sport ESPN
If you want to graduate from being perennial also-rans to a team that contends for major honours in every season, you have to learn to deal with constant pressure, and that's the task that now faces Mauricio Pochettino's talented young Tottenham squad. The weekend's FA Cup defeat against Crystal Palace was a real punch in the guts, and rather than drop to the canvas, Spurs must now get their guard back up.
A fine performance in Florence last week has put Tottenham in the driving seat in this tie, with the 1-1 draw giving them an advantage on away goals. However, there is still plenty of work ahead.
There is much for Spurs fans to be encouraged about. Firstly, White Hart Lane has been something of a fortress in European competition in recent seasons - Opta tell us the Lilywhites have won 15 of their last 20 home games, losing just once. They have scored 50 goals in that period, conceding just 17. Spurs won all three of their home games in the group phase. Tottenham's general form is also very good - they have won seven of their last nine games in all competitions.
Fiorentina are an impressive third in Serie A, but they often lacked ideas in attack last week, and their away form is nothing for Spurs to be scared of. The weekend's topsy-turvy 3-2 victory at Atalanta was only their second away win in eight matches, and they haven't managed back-to-back away successes since November.
These are two talented teams, but Spurs have a point to prove after Fiorentina knocked them out of this competition last season, and their home form in Europe leads me to believe that 1.865/6 is a fair price for the home win.
First-choice keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to return after a shoulder injury, Erik Lamela could be back after illness, and the outstanding Toby Aldeweireld will surely be restored to the line-up after he sat out the Palace game. Pochettino has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal, and Nacer Chadli has shown he can be a good back-up for star striker Harry Kane, who will probably miss out. Chadli has scored five goals in his last eight games, including the opener in last week's first leg.
Spurs won't lack quality, motivation or the backing of a raucous home crowd, and I think they'll edge it.
Back Spurs to win at 1.865/6
2016 Europa League Knockout Phase P/L (1 pt per bet)
Points Staked: 6
Points Returned: 8.81
P/L: +2.81 points
Group Stage P/L: +3.3 points