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Spurs boss: Premier League’s pivotal but we should seize Europa League opportunity

Andre Villas-Boas Andre Villas-Boas

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
2:04 PM

Andre Villas-Boas says the success of Tottenham’s season will be defined by their exploits in the Premier League, but he has urged his players to seize their chance of European glory.

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Spurs currently sit third in England’s top flight, with seven games left to secure their ultimate goal of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.

However, the Lilywhites are also preparing for a Europa League quarter-final tie against FC Basel at White Hart Lane tomorrow night – and Villas-Boas is anxious to take full advantage of the opportunity for silverware in his first season.

“What sets the success of a football team in the end is their league position in every season, but we want to do extremely well in this competition because it would be very important for us to get a trophy this season,” he said.

“I think we’ve taken great steps towards the future with the way we have embraced the Europa League. We were rewarded with two great opponents full of Champions League experience [Lyon and Inter Milan], so this has been an experience that has filled us with knowledge of playing against opponents who play Champions League football - and Basel is another one.

“I think your league position always dictates the success of your season, but in the end winning a trophy is tremendously important.

“Chelsea finished sixth last year but it was completely overshadowed by the fact that they won two major competition, and the most important competition in the world, so it was deemed a successful season in the end.

“We want to focus on trying to win the Europa League but we understand that the fans’ and the club’s expectation for us is to try to reach Champions League qualification this year.”

Villas-Boas concedes that Spurs have the better players for their quarter-final tie against Basel, but he says the Swiss side are in the last eight for a reason and are more than capable of upsetting the odds – as they have done before.

“Obviously they have recent European experience that we don’t have,” said Tottenham’s head coach. “They have got tremendous results recently and in past years with Manchester United, Sporting Lisbon and teams like Bayern Munich – teams they have surprised.

“They are extremely successful at home and are one of the best clubs in the country. It’s obviously a difficult team to play because everyone believes now that they can be winners of the trophy, and Basel will be no different.

“When it comes to the quality of the individuals, we have to admit that we have the superior players, but on the other hand the experience that Basel have - the fact that they have played Champions League, the fact that they are regular trophy winners, their recent European experience - also makes them one of the favourites. They put out Zenit, which was a very strong team, and we expect a tough game.”

Hugo Lloris is back in contention after missing Saturday’s trip to Swansea through injury, but Jermain Defoe has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game - and he is facing a race to be fit for next week’s return leg in Switzerland.

“He has a muscle injury that is definitely going to take him out of the next two games, and maybe Basel away,” said Villas-Boas. “If he can’t make Basel away he should be fit for that week when we prepare for Manchester City.

“It’s a big blow. It’s not the same muscle as before. He had a small tear last month but it’s on the other side [leg] now. Obviously it’s a big miss, he has showed tremendous quality for us this season.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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