They’ve might’ve left the pub a wreck, but the actions of the 50 masked attackers in Lyon on Thursday night haven’t cracked Tottenham Hotspurs' chances to win tonight.
The attack that occurred at the Smoking Dog Pub is the latest in racially charged incidents involving soccer fans, and while the perpetrators aren’t believed to have been Lyon supporters, the events only add to the tension and stakes of tonight’s contest.
The incident is sure to be lumber in the fire for Tottenham, who are looking to maintain the 2-1 lead the club built over Olympique in the first leg at White Hart Lane.
Coach Andre Villas-Boas will continue to use experience to get the job done in goal and will give veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel the start over former Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris.
On the other side, Lyon will continue to miss Yoann Gourcuff, whose absence in the midfield due to a hamstring injury will make the tall task of making it to the next round that much taller.
Lyon coach Remi Garde remains cautiously optimistic regarding his club’s chances tonight and believes Samuel Umtiti’s goal in the first leg could be the difference-maker.
“We know the away goal is very important,” said Garde. “We need to be patient. We have 90 minutes to qualify. It will be difficult, but we can try to close them down and try to cut out their speed. To be able to qualify in front of the home fans would be exciting.”
Exciting as it would be for Garde and Lyon, the cards are stacked in the favor of Tottenham going into this one in light of last night’s racially-charged events.
The ‘Spurs have the points and more reason than ever to defend their lead tooth-and-nail. Because whether you like it or not, this match isn’t about soccer pride anymore.
It’s about vengeance.