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Wed 28 October 2020, 21:03|Tottenham Hotspur

Assistant Head Coach Joao Sacramento is in the chair for the regular pre-match, five-point preview ahead of our Europa League Group J, matchday two meeting with Royal Antwerp on Thursday.

Kick-off is at 5.55pm UK, 6.55pm local time in Belgium.

1 – The opponents

How did Joao assess the threats of Royal Antwerp?

Joao: “Antwerp is a team with a clear identity of play – we cannot forget that they’re actually first in the league in Belgium. It’s a team that, like a lot of teams nowadays, plays with a back five. If you look at our pathway in the Europa League, actually most of the teams that played against us have played with a back five. It’s a team that’s very physical, a team with experienced players, players like (Dieumerci) Mbokani that played here in England, and they are very dangerous as well in set-plays. We can expect a game that’s very physical against a team that knows exactly what they do.”

2 – Control of the group

With both ourselves and Antwerp having secured victories on matchday one last week, how much emphasis was Joao putting on beating them to ensure we stay at the top of the table and in control of our group?

Joao: “To be fair, we want to think game by game. When we are in a big club like Tottenham, it’s part of our mentality, our philosophy, that we want to win every game and on Thursday it’s an important game for our future, but it’s very important to make sure that we are not only looking for the win, we are looking for a process, so we want to ensure that our team is getting an identity. It’s something that we are very focused on.”

3 – Strength in depth

How important did Joao think the squad’s depth is to help us through these tough European matches?

Joao: “As you can see, right now we have a very strong squad with 26 players. We’ve had a lot of games already – the qualifying for the Europa League was very long, we had weeks where we had four games and we can only deal with this when we have a strong squad like we have right now. I don’t think a lot of teams in the world have this advantage.”

We had weeks where we had four games and we can only deal with this when we have a strong squad like we have right now.

Joao Sacramento

4 – Team news

With the match coming three days after our Premier League win at Burnley, what team news did Joao have for us?

Joao: “Just (Japhet) Tanganga is still injured but everyone else is fit. I can tell you that we will make some changes but like in every previous match, the changes don’t mean that the team is weak. We believe that with the squad that we have, even with rotation, the team will keep the level and the quality of play. Gareth Bale will start. Gareth is improving a lot – in terms of fitness level, his condition is much, much better, he’s feeling better every day and with the interaction that we have with him, he’s feeling very positive and we believe that soon he will be at his top level again.”

5 – Defence

How pleased was Joao to see us keep back-to-back clean sheets in our last two matches heading into the Antwerp clash?

Joao: “We’re very happy because we work a lot on the defensive process but we are not so stressed about that because we think, as you can see, right now in the European context of football, every team is conceding a lot of goals and we believe that this is related to the fact that the fans are not present in the stadiums right now. When the team plays away, they feel more confident to take risks and the level of pressure is not the same, so it’s something unusual, but it’s something that of course we want to improve.”

Spurs TV - Joao Sacramento on Royal Antwerp