Tottenham vs. Basel: Key Battles to Watch in Europa League Quarterfinal
Spurs barely advanced to the final eight after they put together a disappointing performance at the San Siro against Inter in the second leg of their round of 16 tie.
Luckily for the North London club, they advanced to the final eight by way of an away goal.
Basel also lost their second leg in the round of 16 to Zenit St. Petersburg, but they advanced on aggregate, 2-1.
Both clubs will now look to get back on track on Thursday as they enter their two-legged quarterfinal showdown.
Here are four key battles to watch in North London on Thursday.
Gareth Bale vs. Cabral and Mohamed Elneny
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Over the last month, Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale has shifted into a more central position in the starting 11.
Bale's role in the center of the attacking midfield has worked quite well for the North London club, and on Thursday he will go up against the defensive midfield duo of Cabral and Mohamed Elneny.
Cabral and Elneny line up beside each other in the 4-2-3-1 formation, and they will be forced to close up the holes in the midfield that Bale usually runs through to create chances on the offensive end.
If the two Basel midfielders can shut down the production of Bale in the Spurs attack, the Swiss Super League leaders could leave North London with a positive result.
Marco Streller and Alexander Frei vs. Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen
FC Basel have two experienced forwards in their squad with Alexander Frei and Marco Streller. Streller will most likely get the start up front in the 4-2-3-1 formation, but Frei should see some time off the bench in the second half.
Frei is one of the best forwards to come off the bench in all of Europe. The retired Swiss international has scored at almost every level for club and country.
Streller is an experienced goalscorer in his own right, and he has the ability to sneak past the duo of Dawson and Vertonghen to create chances for Basel.
Dawson and Vertonghen have developed into the top pair of central defenders for Spurs this season, and they have been very efficient in the back four as Spurs make the push for the top four in the EPL and a run in the Europa League.
Jan Vertoghen vs. Fabian Schar and Aleksandar Dragovic
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Jan Vertonghen has not only provided Tottenham with quality defense this season, but he has turned into a strong offensive threat over the last month as well.
One of Vertonghen's most valuable assets is the threat he provides in the air on set pieces.
The 6'2" Belgian will have go up against the Basel duo of Fabian Schar and Aleksandar Dragovic, both 6'1", in the penalty area on set pieces.
The duo of young Basel centre-backs will not be afraid to contest the towering Belgian on set pieces, and it should end up being one of the most entertaining battles on the pitch, provided that Spurs are able to earn a few corner and free kicks.
Valentin Stocker vs. Kyle Walker
With Basel lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, they will have to attack the Tottenham defense on the wings.
One of the players who will most likely start in one of the wing positions in the midfield is Valentin Stocker.
Stocker will line up on the left side of the attacking midfield trio and the right-back that he will be going up against will most likely be Kyle Walker.
Walker is one of the best young English defenders in the game at the moment, and if he is able to shut down the attacking abilities of Stocker, Tottenham will have a strong chance of winning on Thursday night.
What do you think the key battles are in Thursday's match?
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