Tottenham and Antwerp both sealed their round of 32 berths last time out; now finishing top of Group J is the mission for both teams on Matchday 6.
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Tottenham and Antwerp both sealed their round of 32 berths on Matchday 5, but finishing on top of Group J is the mission for both teams as they go head to head in north London.
• Spurs' 3-3 draw at LASK last time out, in which they benefited from two penalties but conceded an added-time equaliser, was enough to see them through, though it dropped them two points behind Antwerp. The Belgian side claimed their fourth win of the section by defeating Ludogorets 3-1 at home thanks to first European goals from Martin Hongle, Ritchie De Laet and Manuel Benson.
• Premier League leaders Tottenham must therefore make it three home wins out of three to top the group, whereas Antwerp have to avoid a first away defeat in the section to hold on to their position.
• Antwerp surprised Tottenham at home on Matchday 2 as Lior Refaelov's first-half strike proved enough to earn a famous victory for Ivan Leko's side.
• Although that was Tottenham's first meeting with Antwerp, they had faced Belgian clubs ten times previously, most famously in the 1984 UEFA Cup final, which they won on penalties after two 1-1 draws against Anderlecht. Their home record against Belgian visitors is W3 D2, the other draw having come in the most recent encounter, 2-2 at Wembley Stadium against Gent in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32 – a result that eliminated Spurs 3-2 on aggregate.
• Although Antwerp won both legs against Aston Villa in the first round of the 1975/76 UEFA Cup (4-1 h, 1-0 a), their second and most recent pairing with English opposition until this season, against Newcastle United at the same stage of the same competition 19 years later, brought two heavy defeats – 0-5 at home and 2-5 away. Those results were the club's most recent in UEFA competition until they returned to the European fold last season after 25 years away.
• Tottenham finished outside the top four of the Premier League for the first time in five seasons in 2019/20, their final position of sixth ending a four-season run in the UEFA Champions League that had taken them into the final in 2018/19 and to the round of 16 last season, where they were eliminated by Leipzig (0-1 h, 0-3 a).
• Spurs' 2020/21 European campaign began at an earlier stage than in any previous season, but José Mourinho's side came through qualifying ties away to Lokomotiv Plovdiv (2-1) and Shkëndija (3-1) before beating Maccabi Haifa 7-2 at home in the play-offs to take the club into the UEFA Europa League group stage for the sixth time. Having failed to make further progress in 2011/12, the two-time UEFA Cup winners have qualified for the round of 32 in each of their last four group participations, most recently in 2015/16 when they reached the last 16.
• Tottenham have lost three of their nine European games at their new stadium, including a record 7-2 defeat by Bayern München last season, but have won all three there this term, scoring 14 goals, with Group J successes against LASK (3-0) and Ludogorets (4-0) supplementing the play-off win against Haifa. In the UEFA Europa League group stage, their home record is now W14 D2 L1, with no defeats in the last 14 matches and wins in all of the last seven.
• Antwerp beat champions Club Brugge 1-0 in the 2019/20 Belgian Cup final – the club's first victory in the competition for 28 years – to secure a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time.
• Last season the club returned to European competition for the first time in a quarter of a century but were unable to negotiate their way through UEFA Europa League qualifying, going out in the play-offs to AZ Alkmaar after extra time (1-1 a, 1-4 h) following an away goals win, also after extra time, in the third qualifying round against Viktoria Plzeň.
• The Great Old had not won away in Europe since 1992 – a run of seven matches (D3 L4) – until they beat Ludogorets 2-1 in Bulgaria in this season's UEFA Europa League opener. They made it two away wins out of two in Group J by defeating LASK 2-0 in Linz on Matchday 4.
Links and trivia
• Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.
• Antwerp defender De Laet has played for ten English clubs, notably Leicester City, with whom he was a Premier League champion in 2015/16 – though he spent the second half of that campaign on loan at Middlesbrough, helping them win promotion to the top flight.
• De Laet and Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld won their first cap for Belgium in the same match – a 1-1 draw against Chile on 29 May 2009 in the Kirin Cup in Japan.
• Tanguy Ndombélé (Tottenham) and Jérémy Gelin (Antwerp) are team-mates for France's Under-21 side.
• Antwerp are one of six clubs making their UEFA Europa League group stage debut in 2020/21, the others being CSKA-Sofia (Group A), Granada and Omonoia (E), Leicester City (G) and Sivasspor (I). They are one of three, along with Granada and Leicester, to have already qualified for the round of 32.
• Spurs manager Mourinho's only experience of the UEFA Europa League prior to this season was in 2016/17, when his Manchester United side lifted the trophy. His one season managing in the UEFA Cup also ended in glory as he steered Porto to victory in 2002/03.
• Tottenham's sixth appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage is a record for an English club. They became the first Premier League side to chalk up 50 matches in the competition proper on Matchday 2.
• Spurs are one of six former UEFA Cup winners in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage – along with Bayer Leverkusen (Group C), PSV Eindhoven (E), Napoli (F), CSKA Moskva and Feyenoord (both K).