MATCH PREVIEW: NS MURA VS TOTTENHAM, WILL TOTTENHAM PREVAIL?
Spurs sit second in the section with seven points to their name, while the Slovenian hosts are yet to pick up a point in the competition.
Pitting their wits against the likes of Spurs, Rennes and Vitesse was always expected to end one way for Slovenian minnows Mura, whose time in Europe’s tertiary competition will come to a bitter end before the end of the calendar year.
Ante Simundza’s side are rock bottom of Group G having lost their opening four games, although they did give leaders Rennes a good run for their money last time out before ultimately succumbing to a Loic Bade header with 76 minutes played.
Mura are one of three sides in the tournament – along with Alashkert and Lincoln Red Imps – sitting on zero points after four games, while they have also shipped 10 goals and chalked up just two at the correct end of the pitch.
With a trip to Vitesse to come on the final matchday, Mura are at a real risk of ending Group G without a single point to their name, and a 1-1 draw in the league with NK Domzale at the weekend stretched their winless run across all tournaments to six games.
Simundza’s men have claimed just one win from their last 11 in all tournaments as they continue to falter in their title defence, and Tottenham will only be intent on prolonging the hosts’ misery with another goal-laden performance.
Conte made his intentions clear straight away with a first-choice XI for his maiden game in charge, and the move initially appeared to pay off for the Premier League and Serie A winner, with his side racing into a 3-0 lead against Vitesse before the half-hour mark.
However, the Dutch surprise package made a game of it by responding through Jacob Rasmussen and Matus Bero before the half-time whistle blew, and with no fewer than three red cards dished out in the second period, Spurs ultimately held on.
You will not see many coaches celebrate a 2-1 win over an under-performing Leeds United with the unrivalled passion that Conte displayed on Sunday, as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon responded to Dan James’s opener in North London.
Conte has made a satisfactory start to life in North London with two wins and a draw from his opening three games in charge, but Spurs sit three points behind Rennes in Group G before they welcome Les Rouge et Noir to the capital next month.
Spurs barely needed to get out of second gear to thrash Mura 5-1 during their meeting back in September, with Harry Kane bagging a hat-trick on the day amid his top-flight struggles.
NS Mura Europa Conference League form:
NS Mura form (all competitions):
Tottenham Hotspur Europa Conference League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
Mura have no concerns on the disciplinary front for this game, but attacker Ziga Skoflek is expected to miss out through injury once more.
Given how valiantly they performed in the 1-0 defeat to Rennes, it would not be surprising to see Simundza stick with that defensive formula, with captain Ziga Kous starting on the right of a back five.
Nardin Mulahusejnovic started up top in that game, but Amadej Marosa will hope to lead the line this week after netting against Domzale at the weekend.
As for Spurs, Cristian Romero will serve a suspension following his sending off against Vitesse – although he is injured anyway – while Giovani Lo Celso is still uncertain.
A refreshed Oliver Skipp is back from suspension and ought to return to midfield, though, with Conte affirming that he would rotate his resources for Thursday’s contest.
Tanguy Ndombele, Matt Doherty, Ryan Sessegnon and Steven Bergwijn are among the candidates to come into the first XI, but it is difficult to see Dele Alli forcing his way into contention.
NS Mura possible starting lineup:
Obradovic; Kous, Karamarko, Marusko, Karnicnik, Sturm; Pucko, Lorbek, Horvat, Lotric; Marosa
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Tanganga, Sanchez, Rodon; Doherty, Skipp, Ndombele, Sessegnon; Gil, Kane, Bergwijn
What will be the outcome? Will Tottenham be able to win as expected or NS Mura might have surprise package in stall?!
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SOURCE: SPORTS MOLE