The two teams have never met in an official UEFA match but Anzhi does have some experience playing against an English opponent. Last year they exchanged 1-0 home wins with Liverpool in the group stage of the Europa League before being eliminated by Newcastle United in the final 16.
Tottenham Hotspur has encountered a Russian opponent three times before. All these matches were in the group stages of the Europa League, resulting in a win, a draw and a loss for the Spurs.
While Tottenham has had a great start to their domestic division this season, currently ranking 3rd in the Premier League, their Russian rivals have been struggling. Anzhi did not manage to get a win in their last 11 matches, leaving them second from the bottom in the Russian Premier League.
FC Anzhi without Ivorian giant
Last summer FC Anzhi's boss, billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, decided to drastically cut the team’s budget. This resulted in a huge sale of first-team players including Zhirkov, Boussoufa, Diarra and Willian. But the biggest loss for the team was striker Samuel Eto’o.
After Eto’o left, more was expected from Lacina Traoré. Traoré is great young forward with a good scoring average. But what stands out most is his height. At 2.03 meters (6 feet 8 inches) Troaré is among the tallest professional football players.
However, Anzhi must do without him in the match against the Spurs. The 23-year-old sustained a shoulder injury during his team’s draw at FC Sheriff.
Villas-Boas aims to play creative football
Spurs manager André Villas-Boas expects Tottenham Hotspurs to be a totally different proposition to the team that finished fifth in England and reached the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals last season.
With the acquisition of attacking-minded players like Eriksen, Lamela, Chadli, and Soldado, the Portuguese coach aims to play creative and attractive football. “That is why we were very active with this type of player in the market” he says.
FC Anzhi Makhachkala
Mikhail Kerzhakov only joined Anzhi last summer but has already shown he is the number one goalie and he will start against Tottenham.
The defense of Anzhi is a great example of multiple nations working together. Playing left-back is Nigerian Adeleye. Brazilian Ewerton and Russian Tagirbekov will form the center. And the right-back is Cameroonian Angbwa.
Due to the cutting the team’s budget, Anzhi has a completely different midfield this year. Last year it contained names like Diarra, Boussoufa and Willian. Now the midfield will consist of Agalarov, Akhmedov, Sobolev and Jucilei.
And with Traorè being injured coach Gadzhi Gadzhiyev has to alter his offensive plans a bit. I expect him to start with Burmistrov and Solomatin.
Lineup: Kerzhakov - Angbwa, Ewerton, Tagirbekov, Adeleye - Agalarov, Akhmedov, Sobolev, Jucilei - Burmistrov, Solomatin
At the Spurs side French international Lloris will start as goal defender. In front of him will be a defense consisting of Walker, Verthongen, Dawson and Naughton. Left-back Danny Rose is fit to start but due to a lack of rhythm I don’t believe he will.
Danish midfielder Eriksen played really well in his first couple of games for Tottenham. Therefor I assume Villas-Boas will start with him as playmaker. Behind him will be a defensive block of Paulinho and Sandro. Leaving the wings for Townsend and Lamela.
Although it seems Villas-Boas prefers Spaniard Soldado as forward I think Defoe will man that position this game. The Englishman scored two times in the previous Europa League match and has shown good progress over the last few weeks.
Lineup: Lloris - Walker, Verthongen, Dawson, Naughton - Paulinho, Sandro, Eriksen, Lamela, Townsend – Defoe
Tottenham will secure an easy win
I predict Tottenham Hotspur will come away on top in Russia. Their defense has been very solid this year conceding only two goals so far. And Anzhi is nowhere near the team they were when they reached the final 16 last year. The fact that they are missing their star Traoré makes it even harder for them to beat the Spurs.
My prediction: FC Anzhi Makhachkala 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Stefan Bos is a 24-year-old sports fan from the Netherlands. Bos follows almost every sport that is being broadcasted, but soccer is his favorite. Bos currently goes to Law School and is a freelance web-developer with a passion for writing. At iGaming.org he will share his match previews and betting tips to make games even more fun to watch.