WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Jake Livermore of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the pre-season friendly match between Watford and Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road on August 5, 2012 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur play their final friendly of their preseason campaign on Thursday, which is weird to say. This preseason has gone extremely fast. It's going to be their biggest test yet, as they take on Valencia away at the Mestalla. Mauricio Pellegrino should be playing a strong side and I expect very close to the best available team on the pitch for both sides.
Since you last saw Valencia, they added a few top-notch players. Joao Pereira will likely take over right away at right back. Expect Jeremy Mathieu to play left back exclusively for them this year, as opposed to swapping LB and LM with Jordi Alba. That's because Andres Guardado has arrived, and he'll probably start at left wing. Fernando Gago will be one of many options that Valencia have in the center, while youngster Jonathan Viera might get some time in rotation. This year should also be the first year that wonderkid Paco Alcacer plays regularly.
I'm not going to pretend to have extensive knowledge of Mauricio Pelligrino, but between the players that he has and his years as an assistant under Rafael Benitez, I'm not expecting them to change too much from their time under Unai Emery. Expect a 4-2-3-1 that's more counter-attacking than most Spanish sides, with a destroyer and a regista in the double pivot. Lucky for him, Gago has the qualities of both.
As for Spurs, I suspect that the team that Andre Villas-Boas plays today will be close to his first choice team, with everyone fit or close too it. Rafael Van der Vaart might not start due to fitness concerns, but if anyone else is sitting out, it's probably because they're not who Villas-Boas is targeting to start the first match of the season.
Because of this, I'd prefer to see a back line of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jan Vertonghen,
Younes Kaboul Michael Dawson* and Kyle Walker. If Luka Modric isn't available, it should be Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll in the pivot. The front four should be pretty straight-forward, with Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe getting starting nods.
*Younes Kaboul is injured, which the team neglected to tell us, as always.
Kickoff is at 4:00 p.m. ET, 9:00 p.m. in the UK and 10:00 p.m. local. If you're in the UK, you're SOL for viewing this match, as far as I can tell. If there are legal ways to watch this game in the UK, let me know in the comments and this post will be amended. The game is on beIN Sport in the USA, which your cable provider doesn't carry. They have a free stream of their channel on their website right now. I haven't used it yet, but I've been told that it's high quality and not jumpy, for what it's worth.