UEFA Europa League 2013, First round draw: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Lyon

Jan Kruger

Tottenham face Lyon in the first knockout round of the Europa League in what is a fairly evenly-matched game between two decent sides.

Tottenham Hotspur will take on Lyon in one of the most enticing ties of the first knockout round of the Europa League, and while the French side may not be the team they once were, they are still joint-top of Ligue 1 and will be a tricky obstacle for Spurs to negotiate.

Both sides have ambitions at a level above this and will be in difficult battles in their domestic leagues, so we could see some squad rotation from both teams, but it's likely to be limited - this should still be an entertaining tie between two good teams.

Key player

Gareth Bale. A rare player in that he possesses both energy and discipline required for this sort of game, while also being a proven match-winner. The Welsh winger was the star of Tottenham's Champions League campaign two years ago, and while he may be on a lesser stage now, he could still shine against a Lyon defence which is less than robust.

Matchup to watch

Anthony Reveillere vs. Gareth Bale - Since Bale is the dangerman, it makes sense to cast a light on the man that will be up against him, and that man is Anthony Reveillere. It seems something of a mismatch, and Lyon will have to make sure they are solid elsewhere on the pitch. If the game opens up and he becomes isolated, Bale will punish him.

Prediction

Tottenham are simply the better team here and should win this game over the two legs. Lyon are solid, full of decent enough players, but desperately lack match-winners and just aren't a very complete side. Essentially, they're a worse version of Tottenham, and if Spurs' first-choice midfield is available, combined with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe, and Gareth Bale seeing sight of goal - particularly with the possibility of January reinforcements - then Spurs should really be looking for a win here.

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