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Goal looks at Tottenham's pre-season friendlies before they look to launch another challenge for a top four spot this season.

After a promising season under former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur have returned to pre-season training as the Lilywhites brace themselves for ten months of action across four competitions.  

Spurs might have failed to earn a berth in the prestigious UEFA Champions League but Villas-Boas' troops showcased exemplary potential last term and having already acquired the services of Brazil international Paulinho, the 2013/14 season looks set to be an intriguing one for the Londoners.

Back to work since July 8th


The first team returned to training on 8 July. However, the players who were off on international duty will return this week, while new signing Paulinho has been given an extended break, owing to his participation in the Confederations Cup.

Spurs have already played their first match of the pre-season, defeating League One outfit Brentford 3-2, with Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe registering their names on the score-sheet. The match was played "behind closed doors" at Spurs' training ground on Saturday.

Pre-Season Friendlies



I
Swindon Town vs Tottenham Hotspur

Date: 16 July, 2013

Venue: County Ground, Swindon, England

Kickoff: 19:00 BST

            23:30 IST

 

Spurs play their first official friendly against League one side Swindon Town. Villas-Boas is expected to name a relatively strong squad for the game, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Jermaine Defoe and Scott Parker in line to be part of the first XI, although the reserve players will also get ample time on the pitch.

About the opposition -

Swindon Town finished sixth in the League One last term and have recently snapped up Nathan Byrne and Jack Barthtram, both released by Spurs this summer.

Swindon are ranked as the all-time 47th most successful English football club domestically but are currently without a manager, with Kevin MacDonald leaving the club by mutual consent on Saturday.


 

II
Colchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Date: 19 July, 2013

Venue: Colchester Community Stadium, Colchester, England

Kickoff: 19:00 BST

            23:30 IST

 

Spurs continue their pre-season with an away game against minnows Colchester United. With the game falling just three days after the Swindon tie, it is probable that Villas-Boas will bench several of his key players.

About the opposition -

Colchester are most renowned for their 5th round FA Cup win over Don Revie's Leeds United in 1971. Their highest ever league finish came in the 2006/07 season, when the "U's" finished in 10th place in the Championship.

Last season, Colchester narrowly avoided relegation by three points, finishing 20th in League One.


 

III
Tottenham Hotspurs vs Sunderland

Date: 24 July, 2013

Venue: Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong 

Kickoff: 11:00 BST

15:30 IST

 

After playing two friendlies in England, Spurs travel to Hong Kong to compete in the Barclay Asia Trophy, which is a pre-season four-team football tournament held in Asia every two years. The North London outfit won the title in 2009, while their rivals Chelsea emerged victorious in 2011.

About the opposition -

Sunderland will provide Spurs with their first real test of their pre-season fixtures. The Black Cats are currently going through a transitional phase under Paolo Di Canio, who has already roped in eight new faces for the upcoming season.

The last time the two teams met was on the final day of last season, with Spurs edging out their counterparts by a solitary goal from Bale.

Manchester City and South China are the participants of the second semi-final and the final will be played on 27 July (20:30 local time) at the same venue.

 
IV
AS Monaco vs Tottenham Hotspur

Date: 3 August, 2013

Venue: Stade Louis II, Fontvieille, Monaco

Kickoff: 17:30 BST
            22:00 IST

 

Following the Barclays Asia Trophy, Spurs will fly to France to lock horns with free-spending AS Monaco. With stars like Bale, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Paulinho in contention to play, this match can be regarded as one of the most exciting ties of the pre-season.

About the opposition -

Bankrolled by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, AS Monaco's lavish spending in the transfer window this summer has taken European football by storm.

After earning promotion to Ligue 1 at the end of last season, Monaco have gone on to purchase the likes of Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez for a combined sum of €130 million.

They are likely to be Paris Saint-Germain's fiercest challengers for the French crown next season and overcoming Claudio Ranieri's men in the friendly will a massive challenge for Spurs.

 

V
Tottenham Hotspur vs RCD Espanyol

Date: 10 August, 2013

Venue: While Hart Lane, London, England

Kickoff: 17:30 BST

22:00 IST

 

Spurs end their pre-season with a home fixture against La Liga club Espanyol. This match comes exactly a week before the Premier League season starts and perhaps Villas-Boas will choose to give his first-choice starting XI a final test.

About the opposition -

Established in 1900, Espanyol are one of the founding members of the La Liga and hold the record for having completed the maximum number of seasons in Spain's top division without actually winning the title.
The "Blanquiblaus" won their first Copa del Rey in 1929 and hold a bitter rivalry with FC Barcelona. They have qualified for the UEFA Cup nine times, finishing as the runner-ups in 1988 and 2007.

 

Juventus
Tottenham's Man to Watch - Paulinho

 

The Brazil international was linked with several European clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea before Spurs nabbed his signature by triggering the 24-year-old's buy-out clause of £17m.

A box-to-box midfielder, Paulinho shone for Brazil at the Confederations Cup and is touted as one of the best in his position.

Defensively solid, Paulinho can torment the back-four with surging runs from the deep and many pundits suggest the Brazilian's arrival will enable Villas-Boas to revert to the 4-3-3 formation that 35-year-old utilized during his highly-successful Porto days.

What the Bench-warmers need to do...

The pre-season will provide the ideal opportunity for the fringe players and youngsters to impress their manager.

Budding talents Tom Carroll and Danny Rose will try to make most of the playing time that will be afforded to them, while Lewis Holtby, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker will try to stake claims for regular starting XI roles.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor will seek to get among the goals as the 29-year-old faces an uncertain future at the White Hart Lane after a horrendous season last time around.


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