|Spurs Squad enjoying the sights in Russia ahead of their Europa League tie with Anzhi Makhachkala|
Anzhi are not the side they were a couple of years ago when money it seems was no object. The reason became clearer when an arrest warrant was issued for owner Suleiman Kerimov and the CEO of his fertiliser company Uralkali, arrested and held in a KGB jail.
Keromov's great friend Roman Abramovich then bought to of his star names, Eto'o and Willian who were on huge salaries, as Anzhi have now drastically cut their wage bill from the second most expensive in the Russian league to that of a mid table club (£50-60 million).
Other Russian clubs, most notably Zenit St Petersburg, Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow, hate Anzhi with a passion believing they get preferential government assistance and because their fans are treated very harshly by the local police. All in all it doesn't sound a very appealing place to go but they are Spurs next opponents in the Europa League so let's have a look at their on the field activities.
They find themselves bottom of the 16 team Russian league with no wins in 11 games. They have a total of 6 points, have scored 11 goals and let in 18. Returning loanees and reserves had to start the new campaign for them.
Since the beginning of last season they have lost Samba, Zhirkov, Denisov, Sobelev, Solomatin, Gatagov, Smolov, Gabulov, Ionov and KoKorin to Dinamo Moscow, Shatov to Zenit, Carlos to Spartak, Lassana Diarra, Logashov and Boussoufa to Lokomotiv, Carcela-Gonzalez to Standard Leige, Agalarov to Rostov, Spahic to Sevilla, as well as the now Chelsea pair of Eto'o and Willian.
The journey and hostile crowd on foreign soil in an area of poverty will make this a tough game and a great experience for some of our youngsters. The game however is not being played in Dagastan as the Russians are banned from holding European games there amid security fears.
Anzhi are likely to line up either a 4-4-1-1 system that changes into a 4-2-3-1 when they are attacking or as they did in their last domestic league game, a 2-2 draw with Amkar Perm (6th), in a 4-2-3-1 from the outset.
Whilst we were beating Norwegians Tromso, Anzhi were drawing 0-0 away to Moldovian outfit FC Sheriff. This will be our first meeting with the Russians and we go there looking for a victory to put us in a strong position in the group. Early qualification is important to be able to rotate the squad and play the likes of Harry Kane in later games.
Jan Vertonghen and Paulinho have been rested for the game, Andre Villas-Boas explained: “We made that decision because both players were involved in the game (at Villa) two days after we played Cardiff.
"Kyle Walker has travelled, but we rested him for the game against Tromso. The logic is to rest these three players between these fixtures.
“Our strength in depth allows us to do that, so Jan hasn’t travelled, neither has Paulinho.
"The rest of the boys are buzzing to be involved and the mood in the camp is fantastic, so we hope to take that into the game."
Michael Dawson spoke with the media about the Europa League after our first game: “Last year we did not get off to the greatest start and we had to keep fighting. But now we are up and running with three points and the sooner we qualify, the better.
“The Premier League is the priority but the manager has not hidden the fact that he wants to win the Europa League this season.”
• Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel is the oldest player registered in this season's group stage; should he appear in this season's competition he will replace FC Twente goalkeeper Sander Boschker (42 years and 33 days) as the oldest player to have featured in the UEFA Europa League.
• Anji's Ivorian midfielder Abdul Razak has some experience of English football; a Manchester City trainee, he also played in the lower leagues for Portsmouth, Brighton & Hove Albion and Charlton Athletic, however this will be his first encounter with Spurs.
• Tottenham (1972, 1984) are one of five teams in the group stage who have won this trophy before along with Valencia CF (2004), Eintracht Frankfurt (1980), PSV Eindhoven (1978) and fellow two-time winners Sevilla FC (2006, 2007).
• A major footballing figure in his native Dagestan, Gadzhi Gadzhiev returned for a fourth spell as Anji coach in the summer of 2013 with the club adopting a new approach following the departure of Dutchman Guus Hiddink. A player for FC Spartak Leningrad, he has coached in Azerbaijan and Japan, and worked as assistant to Anatoliy Byshovets during his spells in charge of the USSR/CIS and Russia, embarking on the first of his adventures with Anji in 1999.
• The only coach in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage to have won the competition in its current incarnation, André Villas-Boas learned his coaching craft under Sir Bobby Robson and José Mourinho. After a first solo venture at A. Académica de Coimbra, he led FC Porto to an extraordinary league, cup and UEFA Europa League treble in 2010/11. He fared less well at Chelsea FC, but regained his footing after joining Tottenham in July 2012.
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