With less than two weeks to go until the World Cup, it’s worth taking a look at which Spurs player will be involved.
For the first time in sixty years, they’ll be no Tottenham player in the England side. It’s a depressing statistic but there are mitigating circumstances. Kyle Walker would certainly have made the squad, probably even the starting eleven, had he been fit. Winger Andros Townsend had become a Hodgson favourite after his great start to the season and a promising England debut. Unluckily, he also misses out because of injury
Despite the lack of England representation, there are seven Spurs players who will be representing their country at the tournament. With the eyes of the World watching, the competition will provide a great opportunity for them to gain form and confidence, or alternatively a shop window to increase their transfer value.
- Brazil (Odds: 4.1, 1st Favourite) – Paulinho
It’s fair to say Paulinho had an up and down start to his first season in England. An energetic, box-to-box midfielder with a handy knack of popping up with useful goals, he had one or two great games in a Spurs shirt – notably Stoke and Newcastle.
The move to England and change of manager seemed to unsettle him and his concentration and focus waned. Maybe he had one eye on a home World Cup.
Despite Paulinho’s indifferent form, Scolari has always kept faith in him. “Big Phil” has a reputation for being fiercely loyal to his favourites. It will be interesting to see how the midfielder performs under the spotlight – the pressure on Brazil will be intense, as both the hosts and tournament favourites.
The home nation have a competitive team, even if it doesn’t match up to some of the legendary Brazil sides of the past. There’s a very real chance Paulinho could become a World Cup winner. Let’s just hope he has a great tournament and brings that form back to White Hart Lane for next season.
- Belgium (Odds: 23, 5th) – Vertonghen, Dembele, Chadli
Belgium are the up and coming nation in World football. After a period in the wilderness, since the days of the great Enzo Scifo, a successful youth program has produced a new “golden generation”. This World Cup will be an interesting test, can they can live up to the hype?
Vertonghen had a fantastic first season at Spurs but a difficult second season. Injuries played a part, as did the managerial situation, with many questioning his stomach for the fight. Ultimately he remains a classy defender and will be a real asset to Belgium.
Dembele also had a disappointing year. For all his natural ability, he is frustratingly inconsistent and displays questionable decision making. Chadli seems a reasonable squad player but he hasn’t exactly set the Premier League alight. Both may start on the bench in a team brimming with midfield talent.
Daniel Levy will probably be watching another Belgian more closely, the Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku. He is rumoured to be a transfer target and would be an excellent addition to the squad. However the question remains: would Chelsea sell him to Spurs? Not only are they our local rivals, the relationship between the clubs has had a tempestuous recent history.
- France (Odds: 25, 6th) – Lloris
Lloris was many Spurs supporters player of the season, me included. He is an excellent shot stopper but where he really distinguishes himself is the decisive way he comes for crosses and mops up behind his defence. The French have such faith in the Spurs’ keeper that he captains the side.
France don’t have as good a team this year as in previous World Cups but they are dangerous dark horses. History has shown that in knockout football, a good goalkeeper can hide a multitude of weaknesses.
- Cameroon (Odds: 1000) – Assou-Ekotto
Cameroon are one of the rank outsiders for the trophy. Qualification for the second round would be a major achievement.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto spent the season on loan at QPR and by all accounts didn’t distinguish himself. Spurs are crying out for a decent left back – the current incumbent, Danny Rose, is the weak link in the Spurs squad. Unfortunately, I don’t think Assou-Ekotto is the answer. Transfer targets like Ricardo Rodriguez and Ben Davies look a better option.
Assou-Ekotto has not featured in recent friendlies for Cameroon, so it’s likely he won’t get a lot of game time in Brazil.
- Algeria (Odds: 1000) – Bentaleb
The emergence of Bentaleb from the Spurs youth team was one of the few success stories in a disappointing season. It will be interesting to see how Pochettino uses him next year. Showing a great temperament and maturity, and some excellent passing, the Algerian may benefit from the new regime’s likely emphasis on possession football and youth.
Unfortunately, the young Algerian is linked in many peoples minds to the unpopular Tim Sherwood. This competition could provide a chance for him to break that association, though his country are unlikely to go far in the tournament. Bentaleb only made his international debut in February and had to make do with a substitute appearance in Algeria’s recent friendly win over Armenia, so he may not get much of an opportunity.
It will be interesting to see how these players fair with their national sides. It’s always instructive to watch how someone plays in a different environment. Some may improve their reputations and attract attention from other clubs, some may falter. We could even find ourselves watching a Spurs star of the future.
With three Tottenham players in the Belgium team, it looks like Spurs fans should be supporting them in Brazil. As fifth favourites at this World Cup and boasting the likes of Lukaku and Hazard in their lineup, they’re probably a better bet than England. I’m off to buy a Belgium flag, stock up on Leffe and get my face painted.
Are you looking forward to the World Cup? Do you think any Spurs players will make their mark on the tournament? Please let us know your opinion in the section below.