Shkendija – Tottenham is a tricky one for Spurs, who will be hoping Macedonia is a bit kinder than Bulgaria.
A week after Spurs came back from a late deficit to beat 9-man Lokomotiv Plovdiv — a win in which many missed the key moments due to technical difficulties — Tottenham has to beat Shkendija in Tetovo to move within a win of the Europa League group stage.
Shkendija has become a regular participant in either the Champions League or Europa League but has been handled by most name opponents including AC Milan, Red Bull Salzburg, and Partizan Belgrade.
[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ]
Ay, but here’s the rub: The home legs have all been close in those ties, all 1-0 losses, and this is a one-legged affair with the promise of a visit from either Rostov or Maccabi Haida on Oct. 1.
Mourinho branded Spurs’ schedule a ‘total joke’ but got some relief in a sense when Leyton Orient’s positive COVID-19 tests postponed Tuesday’s short trip across London.
It’s a 2pm ET kickoff on Thursday in Macedonia. Spurs are favored in a big way even away from home, with a Shkendija win paying off +1800 from some bookmakers.
Not bad considering Spurs have the second best odds to win the tournament behind (ducking) Arsenal.
A Shkendija win would not be the biggest upset of the day. Instead of talking about Sporting Lisbon versus Aberdeen or Galatasaray’s tough visit from Hajduk Split, let’s acknowledge the biggest underdogs of the penultimate round before the group stage.
NS Mura +1000 home to PSV Eindhoven
Underdog fun fact: The Slovenian hosts have technically only existed since 2013, having risen from the ashes of ND Mura 05, which itself began in 2005 by picking up the pieces of NK Mura. That club had been around since 1924.
Riga +1100 home to Celtic
Underdog fact: The young Latvian club was put together as a merger of two others and has already beaten CSKA Sofia, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Copenhagen in single matches during its European life.
Desna Chernihiv +1500 away to Wolfsburg
Underdog fact: Ukrainian side Desna handed West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko his senior debut at the age of 17. Yarmolenko scored four goals in nine appearances before signing for national giants Dynamo Kiev.
Shkendija +1800 home to Tottenham
Underdog fact: Once managed by former German national team striker Thomas Brdaric.
B36 Torshavn +1900 away to CSKA Sofia
Underdog fun fact: The White Tigers of the Faroe Islands have played in 51 European matches, winning just seven. Three of those have come this season.
Locomotive Tbilisi +4400 away to Granada
Underdog fun fact: The Georgian side stunned Russian mainstays Dinamo Moscow to make it this far. Safe to say the bookies don’t see them repeating the feat against La Liga opposition.
How to watch Shkendija – Tottenham + Europa League playoff round streams, start times
When: Wednesday and Thursday
Online: Bleacher Report Live
Europa League playoff round ties
All times ET
Apollon Limassol v Lech Poznan — Noon
Ararat-Armenia v Celje — 10 am
KuPS v Suduva Marijampole — 11:30 am
Viktoria Plzen v Sonderjyske — Noon
Fehervar v Stade de Reims — Noon
Rostov v Maccabi Haifa — 12:30 pm
Riga v Celtic — 1 pm
Besiktas v Rio Ave — 1 pm
NS Mura v PSV Eindhoven — 1 pm
Sporting Charleroi v Partizan — 1 pm
Malmo v Lokmotiva Zagreb — 1 pm
Djurgardens v CFR Cluj — 1 pm
Rosenborg v Alanyaspor — 1 pm
CSKA Sofia v B36 Toshavn — 1 pm
FCSB v Slovan Liberec — 1:30 pm
Hapoel Be’er Sheva v Motherwell — 1:30 pm
Shkendija v Tottenham Hotspur — 2 pm
Galatasaray v Hajduk Split — 2 pm
Copenhagen v Piast Gliwice — 2 pm
Granada v Lokomotiv Tbilisi — 2pm
Standard Liege v Vojvodina — 2 pm
APOEL Nicosia v Zrinjski Mostar — 2pm
Sheriff Tiraspol v Dundalk — 2 pm
Sarajevo v Buducnost Podgorica — 2 pm
Klaksvikar Itrottarfelag v Dinamo Tbilisi — 2 pm
Wolfsburg v Desna Chernihiv — 2:15 pm
AC Milan v Bodo/Glimt — 2:30 pm
Basel v Anorthosis Famagusta — 2:30 pm
St Gallen v AEK Athens — 2:30 pm
LASK v DAC Dunajska Streda — 2:30 pm
Legia Warsaw v Drita — 2:30 pm
Floriania v Flora Tallinn — 2:30 pm
HNK Rijeka v Kolos Kovalivka — 2:45 pm
Sporting Lisbon v Aberdeen — 3 pm
Willem II Tilburg v Rangers — 3 pm