Gary Mabbutt has told Football FanCast that Tottenham Hotspur can beat Dinamo Zagreb as long as Jose Mourinho unleashes the full force of his attack in the Europa League Round of 16.
Spurs have progressed to the last-16 after a series of thumping wins in the competition.
Mourinho’s side beat Wolfsberger 8-1 on aggregate in the last-16, and also beat Ludogorets 3-1 and 4-0 in the group stages, while beating LASK 3-0.
There were some poor results too; a 1-0 loss to Royal Antwerp marked perhaps the nadir of Mourinho’s reign, while a 3-3 draw with LASK was notable mainly for the lack of defensive organisation.
But Spurs have progressed to within spitting distance of the quarter final and the draw with Zagreb could be seen as favourable.
Indeed, Manchester United drew AC Milan, while the likes of Arsenal, Ajax, and Roma were all drawn elsewhere.
Mabbutt admits that the draw could have been tougher, but he thinks Zagreb are a fine team who will provide a stern test.
The Croatian outfit conceded just once in the group stages, coming through a group including Wolfsberger, Feyenoord, and CSKA Moscow.
Mabbutt told FFC: “Yes. I mean, of course, when we look at the teams who are involved in the draw, there are teams you think, oh, I’d like to avoid those. But yeah, any team to get to this stage in the Europa League, obviously, are fantastic teams. And certainly there are ones that you would prefer to avoid more than others.
“Zagreb, I think, if you look at their records in European competition, never got past the last 16 in the Europa League, so hoping the same thing happens this year.
“But yeah, in fact, last year, they actually set a European record for going nearly the whole of the group stage without conceding a goal. They conceded that going into the last 15 minutes of their sixth group stage match. So again, obviously, as a manager, you look at that, and you see that they may be quite strong defensively.”
And, as a result, Mabbutt believes Spurs need to top-load the team and bring in some of the strongest attacking players available to Mourinho in order to breach Zagreb’s defences.
Indeed, he has insisted that if Mourinho can get the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, and Gareth Bale all firing, no team in the world would want to come up against them.
He added: “Well, if I was a manager, I would make sure that I keep my defence strong and then throw everything I’ve got at them, and unleash Kane, Son, Bale. If you’ve got a team, you’ve got players like, Harry Kane, Son, Gareth Bale, Dele Alli, Lamela, Ndombele. If you’ve got all those players on top form, there’s not a team in the world would like to face those players now.”