Tottenham will take aim at the last four of the Europa League on Thursday as they travel to Switzerland for a quarter-final second leg against FC Basel.
But the big question mark hanging over Andre Villas-Boas’ men is whether they will be able to complete the task without star man Gareth Bale.
Spurs recovered from two goals down in the first leg at White Hart Lane last week, salvaging a 2-2 draw thanks to goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
However, the Swiss champions were more than a match for them on the night and they will know that a far better performance will be required at St Jakob Park to secure their progress.
They will need to score to stand any hope of progressing to their first European semi-final since they won the UEFA Cup in 1984, but the absence of Bale will inevitably impact on their attacking threat.
The Welshman missed Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Everton in the Premier League after suffering a nasty-looking ankle injury in the first game against Basel, while Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon are also set to miss out.
Between them, Bale and Defoe have scored seven of Tottenham’s 16 goals in this season’s competition and over half of the team’s Premier League goals.
With their two main goal threats missing, AVB will be looking to their direct replacements, Adebayor and Sigurdsson, to supply the ammunition.
The duo have stuck once each in both of Tottenham’s previous two games and are the best priced Spurs players in bwin’s any time goalscorer market at 17/10 and 2/1 respectively.
The Londoners’ injury problems are reflected in bwin’s 3-way betting market for the second leg, which places Basel as the 7/5 favourites to win and 11/20 to advance, with Spurs 17/10 to win on the night or 27/20 to claim victory in the tie by any means required.
Perhaps even more concerning for Spurs and their fans is their away record in Europe this season, which includes four draws and one defeat, but most importantly, no wins.
To make matters worse still, Basel have not lost at home in Europe this year and have only conceded in front of their own fans on one occasion, in a 2-2 draw with Belgian side Genk, which makes 13/50 on Tottenham to score in the match look rather miserly.
The Swiss side have been in imposing form in all competitions, losing only once since November 25th, to Zenit St Petersburg, and even that came en route to knocking the Russians out in the previous round of this competition.
That run of results has taken them to the top of the Swiss Super League and on course for a fourth consecutive domestic title, so their draw at White Hart Lane was certainly no fluke.
In such a tough game to call, taking the draw at 5/2 is certainly a viable option when you consider how many stalemates Spurs have been involved in so far during their continental adventures.
But whoever advances on Thursday night, it would appear that a price of 11/10 on more goals being scored in the second half than the first offers the best value for punters.
A closer look at the relevant statistics reveals that both teams have scored more times in the second period of their Europa League fixtures than prior to the interval (Spurs have notched nine second-half goals and Basel have fired ten).
And with the tie so delicately balanced, it would be no surprise if a cagey opening 45 minutes is followed by a flurry of activity after half-time as either team is forced to chase the game.
In the absence of any clear indicators to suggest which team will reach the semi-finals, the 11/10 is good enough to run with – take it now.