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Nic Ladds 18th Feb 2009 - 20:15

Shakhtar can win this battle, but Spurs can win the war

Tottenham may be considered by some to be cup specialists but odds of 11/4 about them winning against Shakhtar Donetsk suggests many don't give them a chance.

Shakhtar are the even money favourites with the draw at 23/10 and Harry Redknapp will know Spurs have a few obstacles to overcome if they are to get a result.

They have a host of absentees either through injury or because they are ineligible which includes, Keane, Defoe, Pavlyuchenko, Lennon, Modric and King to name but a handful of the options they have missing.

Shakhtar have been backed in since Redknapp declared (rightly), that Premier League survival and the clash with Hull on Monday is more important.

Also Tottenham's woeful away form needs to be addressed and now would be the perfect time for them to turn things around as it will give them an edge in the return leg and a confidence boost to take back to domestic competition.

This leaves Darren Bent the only first class striking option and Bent has already scored 4 in the UEFA Cup and can be backed at 7/1 for first goal with Fraizer Campbell available at 8/1.

Tom Huddlestone has scored two so far in the competition and is a big 20/1 to score first or 11/2 to bag a goal at anytime during the game.

Shakhtar have a host of Brazilian talent on display which includes midfielder Jadson who has scored four in the competition and is 15/2 to score first with striker Luiz Adriano 6/1.

Olexandr Gladkiy and Marcelo Moreno are both 11/2 to score the first goal and the home side certainly carry more attacking threats than Spurs.

With defenders missing as well as strikers people may see a convincing victory for the home side as the only outcome.

This makes scores like 3-0 and 3-1 to Shakhtar both at 20/1 look plausible with 1-0 11/2 and 2-1 8/1.

Redknapp knows what it takes to win games like this though and if Spurs can shut out Shakhtar then they might be able to nick a 1-0 win and reward backers at odds of 13/2 with 2-1 at 9/1 or for those that fancy a draw 1-1 is 11/2 with 0-0 at 13/2.

The one thing in Tottenham's advantage is that Shakhtar haven't played a competitive game for two months now since their domestic season ended.

This means for sure Spurs players will at least be fitter and more alert and this could be the telling factor despite them having a depleted team.

Shakhtar halftime/full time doesn't look the best bet at 13/5, and due to Spurs trend of starting slow and finishing strong, Shakhtar half time/draw full time at 14/1 could be worth a small investment or even Shakhtar halftime/Tottenham full time at odds of 22/1 could tempt a few.

Over two match goals at even money looks more likely than under two goals at 2/1 and a bet like the home team to score in both halves could have some value at odds of 2/1.

While Spurs are under no illusions of the challenge they face they are capable of pulling off what would be seen as upset and can certainly grab a valuable away goal or two.

It is unlikely they will manage to keep Shakhtar out the whole game but they should keep it respectable and give themselves a real chance of qualification in the return leg and the odds would agree as Spurs are 8/13 to qualify with Shakhtar at 6/5.

Recommendation:
Jadson to score anytime - 9/4
Shakhtar to win 2-1 - 8/1

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