The 2011-2012 Europa League season gets underway on Joy Sports on Multi-TV later today when Harry RedKnapp’s Tottenham visit Greece to play the unheralded PAOK Salonika.
The Premier League outfit gets their UEFA Europa League Group A campaign under way against a PAOK FC side featuring a number of players who will be familiar to visiting manager Harry Redknapp:
PAOK goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias was coached by Spurs boss Redknapp when he was in charge of Portsmouth FC. Chalkias was to make just nine first-team appearances in a spell that lasted from January 2005 to January 2006.PAOK midfielder Bertrand Robert is the younger brother of Laurent Robert, who spent five years in England at Newcastle United FC from 2001 to 2006, and also played under Redknapp during a loan spell at Portsmouth in 2005.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has denied that he is treating the Europa League with contempt.
Spurs landed in Greece this afternoon ahead of their first Group A match against PAOK Salonika.
The Tottenham boss has left 10 of the XI who started Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves at home in order to rest ahead of this weekend’s crunch league game against rivals Liverpool. “It’s not a case of prioritising a game, it’s just (using) what I have got,” Redknapp said.
“I couldn’t bring players out here, play them on Thursday night and play the same group against Liverpool. If I get a few injuries I have no back-up. I have nine senior, very, very good players who are injured. Some of them have played two international games so I wanted to change the team around. I have done that. I have not been able to use the strong group I have for this first game because for this first game they’re not fit. After this we will be able to field almost two very, very good teams in Europe.”
PAOK manager Laszlo Boloni, who took over this summer, insists the move is not arrogance on Redknapp’s part and is sure that he would do the same if he had a squad with the same depth of talent.
“He (Redknapp) can now do this because it’s the group stage and he thinks he has a group strong enough to change a few things,” the Romanian said. If you have as many players as they you can rotate.He thinks that is right for his team in this moment. In four or five months when he plays in the latter stages he might change his mind.”
Awaiting Redknapp’s team will be a sell-out 32,000 crowd with a reputation for being one of the most fanatical in Europe.
The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition. PAOK met Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal FC in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup first round, prevailing 1-0 in Salonika and then drawing 1-1 in London. That is their only previous tie against an English side.
Spurs have won only one of their last five European games, 5-0 at Heart of Midlothian FC in this season’s UEFA Europa League play-offs. However, they have lost only one of their last four European games on the road (4-0 at Real Madrid CF in last season’s UEFA Champions League quarter-finals), and winning twice: at AC Milan (1-0 in the UEFA Champions League round of 16) and Hearts.
PAOK Salonika vs. Tottenham Hotspurs kicks-off at 5:00pm on Joy Sports on Multi-TV. Pre-match formalities begin at 4:30pm