The Maribor Ultimatum
There’s no shame in losing to the Champions of Europe: that seems to be the party line to tow after last weekend’s anarchic ninety-minutes with Chelsea. You can pick through the carcass of the team selection, the individual errors, even Tom Huddlestone’s seriously-bro-this-isn’t-working afro: but when you boil down the football sauce until it’s a thick, gelatinous slew of football guck, an under-strength Spurs were bested by the League leaders who possess a staggeringly decent set of players. We feel bad for a bit; we move on.
And what better way to run away from our problems move on than fly a thousand miles to Eastern Europe to play some good ol’ timey Europa League kickball. No better way, is the correct answer.
Being a Professional Football Blogger ® (you heard) I can of course detail lots about our opponents tonight, from memory. For example, did you know that Nogometni Klub Maribor, commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional association football club based in the city of Maribor, Slovenia? It may also surprise you to learn that, founded on 12 December, 1960, Maribor is one of only three football clubs in the country who have never been relegated from Slovenian top flight. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in north-eastern Slovenia.
And there’s plenty more where that came from. On Wikipedia.
The big stories coming from our camp today are of who’s been left behind. New dad Gareth Bale hasn’t flown. Presumably he’s up to his eyeballs in vomit and talcum powder and decided the fun’s not about to stop anytime soon. Also among the grounded is one Emmanuel Adebayor, who perhaps has an inkling that if he were to exert himself too much in Slovenia, the chances of facing the Saints on Sunday will be even more remote than they are already. A well-timed niggle, you might say. Dembele’s hip injury has not been risked either, which appears very much a wise decision.
Spurs, then, in keeping with this whole ‘taking the Europa League seriously’ shtick, are in must-win territory. And win they must. COYS.