Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to make it into the quarter-finals of the Europa League this evening when they head to the Croatian capital with a two-goal advantage over league champions Dinamo Zagreb.
But Jose Mourinho will surely be wary of the dangerous and cliched 2-0 scoreline, so there will certainly be a temptation to stick with a strong starting XI.
Though, given Spurs’ quality, the Portuguese boss should be able to rotate adequately and still put up a resounding display.
Which is why we’re backing Dele Alli to start tonight…
The 24-year-old is still heavily out-of-favour in north London but has featured more frequently since his collapsed move to Paris Saint-Germain in January.
Alli has featured in five of their last six league outings, though just one of those has seen him start from the off. Whilst in Europe, the £26m-rated gem has started all three of their knockout matches, including a masterclass against Wolfsberger AC in the last round which saw him deliver one goal and two assists, via Transfermarkt.
“To have Dele back at this level is amazing,” said Mourinho after the match.
It’s often easy to forget that the attacking midfield still has a lot to give as he’s seemingly been around forever – he joined from MK Dons for just £5m in 2015 as an 18-year-old.
Throughout his career, he’s been likened to many a Premier League and England great, ranging from Steven Gerrard to Frank Lampard.
One player who did the reverse of that switch was Rafael van der Vaart, when joining Spurs from the La Liga giants in 2010 and he agreed with the aforementioned statement.
“He is still so young and already so eager, I like that a lot. He is fast, fluid and has a great skill set. He is special and if he keeps enjoying himself and the game, he may become a true great.”
Despite his lack of game time, Alli is putting up some good attacking returns with two goals and three assists in the Europa League alone, whilst his 1.4 key passes per game in the competition is only bettered by Harry Kane and Heung-min Son in the Premier League, so maybe Mourinho could do with utilising such creativity in the league more often.
Especially considering that was something they severely lacked during the north London derby on Sunday. Spurs managed only three shots on target and failed to create a big chance – Tanguy Ndombele was hooked just after an hour, having failed to make a key pass, via SofaScore.
Tonight’s encounter gives Mourinho a chance to rest the Frenchman, who has had fitness troubles in the past, and similarly, Lucas Moura could probably do with a rest after featuring as a no.10 in his last three appearances.
It also hands a rare opportunity to Alli to prove he can still be a major game-changer for Spurs.
AND in other news, why Mourinho must axe “very poor” Spurs calamity tonight…