Despite draw, Tottenham Hotspur still controls Group and UCL destiny

Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur gives their side instructions during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sporting CP at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 26, 2022 in London, England. 

While the draw felt like a loss for Spurs on Wednesday evening at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Sporting, the Lilywhites still control their Group and destiny in Europe.

After seemingly having guaranteed themselves a place in the knockout stages, Tottenham Hotspur had their dreams snatched away with a late VAR call. And while the disappointment stings and likely will until the team can punch their ticket to the next round, Tottenham Hotspur still controls their Champions League Group.

As Tottenham was drawing Sporting, across the way in Germany, Frankfurt beat Marseille, giving every team in Group D two wins. However, with two draws against only one defeat, Tottenham has eight points and the lead in the Group.

Sporting sits second with 7 points ahead of Frankfurt on goal difference. Spur’s opponent next week, Marseille, is in fourth place but could still win the Group outright if they beat Tottenham and Frankfurt and Sporting draw on matchday six.

We only know that Tottenham should remain in Europe because they should not finish last in the group.

The worst-case scenario for Spurs is they lose to Marseille, and Sporting versus Frankfurt ends in a draw. In that scenario, Marseille would win the group on nine points, while Sporting, Spurs, and Frankfurt would all have eight points.

The first tiebreaker is points head-to-head, which in this case would go to Sporting, who beat Spurs on matchday one. However, based on the strength of their 3-2 win over Frankfurt, Spurs would finish third, dropping down to the Europa League but staying in Europe.

Europa League is not the goal, and the good news is that all Spurs need to do, is take at least one point, and they will advance. If Spurs draw in France, they will have nine points, and at most, either Frankfurt or Sporting could jump over them to win the Group with 10 points, but not both teams.

Of course, if Spurs manage to win a road game in Europe – which has not happened in some time – Tottenham would be guaranteed to advance and win the Group.

Ultimately, while the result was far from what Spurs wanted and the end of the game was quite painful, if Tottenham can manage a point in France, they will advance. If Spurs can’t get a point, they probably should not be advancing anyway.

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