Swiss test for Spurs in Champions League play-off
Nyon: Fortune smiled on Tottenham Hostpur in Friday’s draw for the Champions League play-off rounds with Harry Redknapp’s team paired against Swiss lightweights Young Boys.
Spurs are making their Champions League debut and their first foray into Europe’s top flight competition for half a century after edging Manchester City to finish fourth in last season’s Premier League.
If Redknapp’s team overcome their Swiss rivals they will join Premier League rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in the Champions League group stages which begin next month.
The last time Spurs, who have the advantage of playing their second leg tie at White Hart Lane, played at this level in Europe was when they reached the semi-finals of the 1961-62 European Cup.
Tottenham’s only previous European meeting with Swiss opposition ended in a 9-1 aggregate win over Grasshopper in the 1973-74 UEFA Cup.
While a favourable draw, Young Boys will prove no pushovers, as they underlined when beating Turkey’s Fenerbahce in the last round.
Spurs will nevertheless have breathed a collective sigh of relief as they avoided the likes of big guns Sampdoria, fourth in Serie A last season, Werder Bremen, Ajax, or an exhausting trip to Ukrainian first division runners-up Dynamo Kiev.
That trip to Kiev will be undertaken by former European champions Ajax, coached by Spurs’ former boss Martin Jol.
Speaking on Sky Sports News, Tottenham’s club secretary Darren Eales said: “I don’t think there was a perfect draw. All five teams that have got through are obviously quality sides.”
He added of Young Boys: “We saw them play against Fenerbahce - that was a great result for them to win 1-0 in Turkey.
“So we know it’s going to be a tough game but we’re excited about it and looking forward to hopefully getting into the Champions League group stages.”
However, Eales was happy to avoid Dynamo, saying: “With Dynamo Kiev, there’s the travel aspect.
“In that respect, we’re going to Switzerland; it’s not so far to travel. That’s obviously a positive.
“I think the other thing that we’ll be pleased about is that we’re playing at home second leg - that’s always an advantage.”
One of Young Boys’ players, Enfield-born Spurs fan Scott Sutter, told Sky: “We are always well against stronger teams, and if we play like we did against Fenerbahce then our chances are good at home against Tottenham.”
In other match-ups Werder Bremen face Sampdoria, French outfit Auxerre were drawn with Zenit St-Petersburg and Sporting Braga, who downed Celtic to get to the play-offs, will play Spaniards Sevilla.
The play-off first legs will be staged on August 17/18, with the return legs held the following week.
The ten play-off winners will go into the group stage draw along with the 22 teams automatically qualified to be held in Monaco on August 26.