Tottenham Hotspur vs AS Monaco Preview: Spurs face tough test on Champions League return

Tottenham Hotspur host Monaco in the Champions League group opener on Wednesday night.

Tottenham Hotspur vs AS Monaco Preview: Spurs face tough test on Champions League return
Image credit: VAVEL

After a six year absence, Tottenham Hotspur make their long awaited return to the UEFA Champions League when they face AS Monaco at Wembley stadium.

It's been a while

Spurs are finally back where they want to be, competing amongst Europe's elite with it being six seasons since they were last in the Champions League. The 2010/11 team, then managed by Harry Redknapp had a great run as they reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Real Madrid; who would proceed to take away top players, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale in the following years.

Monaco's fantastic start

Although they are not the biggest of names Spurs could have drawn at this group stage phase, Mauricio Pochettino will be wary of first opponents, Monaco and their quality. In fact Leonardo Jardim's team sit top of the French Ligue 1 after an unbeaten start through four games; which has included a 4-1 hammering they gave champions PSG.

A change of scenery 

Spurs would have liked their long awaited return to Europe's main competition to have taken place at their own ground, but with the work going on around White Hart Lane for the new stadium, they are not allowed to play European games there. Luckily for Spurs, the FA granted them permission to play their home games at another prestigious venue in North London, in the form of national stadium, Wembley.

It's sure to be a unique atmosphere as Spurs try and make the nation's football home their own on European nights. Wembley is no stranger to Champions League encounters, as it hosted the 2011 and 2013 finals.

Teams are no strangers to each other

This is in fact the second year in a row Spurs and Monaco have been drawn with each other in a European group, after they met in the UEFA Europa League first round last season. The teams won a game apiece as Monaco won in France, before Spurs secured a 4-1 triumph when the teams met in North London.

Team news

Midfielder Moussa Dembele will finally make his first appearance of the season for Spurs after being suspended for the start of the Premier League campaign, following the unsavoury incident with Diego Costa at the end of last season. Spurs will also still be without full-back Danny Rose after he was injured on international duty with England

On the other hand, Monaco have a fully fit squad to choose from; much to Jardim's delight.

Stats

Spurs are actually the second team to play their Champions League home games at Wembley, after rivals Arsenal did it back in 1998/99 and 1999/2000 at the old stadium.

Monaco have made it out the group stage in five of their last six Champions League campaigns. Erik Lamela scored four goals in the two meetings with Monaco last season.