The Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has demanded a win over Lazio in Rome in Spurs’ fifth Europa League game in Group J. Striker, Emmanuel Adebayor owes Spurs a big performance against the group leaders following his dismissal in the north London derby last weekend. His sending off after seventeen minutes went a long way to determining the outcome of the match with Arsenal in which he had given Spurs an early lead.
Adebayor has yet to appear in an away game in this season’s Europa League. He was unavailable for the matches in Greece and Slovenia due to minor injuries but with a three match suspension coming up he will want to make amends for last Saturday’s mistake when he received a straight red card for a late challenge. He apologised for his mistake and expressed his disappointment at letting the team down against Arsenal. Adebayor’s suspension means that he will miss Spurs next two Premier League home games against West Ham and Liverpool as well as the away fixture with Fulham, all of which are be played in the next ten days.
Villas-Boas recognises the importance of the game in Rome and is looking for a Spurs win in Rome as it would help to secure their passage into the knock-out stages of the competition. In the very close group, Tottenham are vying with leaders, Lazio, and Maribor, in third place, for qualification.
Speaking to the club’s Twitter feed last night, @SpursOfficial tweeted:
Europa League Qualification Permutations
Lazio currently have a two point advantage over Spurs who are a further two points ahead of Maribor.
- A win in Rome would put Spurs top of the group with automatic qualification and a final home game to play against Panathinaikos in early December.
- Should Lazio win they would have secured their place in the knock-out stages with a game to spare.
- A win for Maribor in Greece, along with a Tottenham defeat, would return them to second place at Spurs’ expence. Such a scenario would leave Spurs as they were last season, going into the final group game knowing that qualification was out of their hands. They would then need to defeat the Greek team and hope that Lazio get at least a draw in Slovenia.
- A draw for Spurs in Rome coupled with a Maribor win in Greece tonight would have the three teams separated by only two points with Spurs and Maribor level on seven points. They would again be dependent on the result of the other game in the last set of group matches although in this situation both teams would have something to play for in the match in Slovenia while Spurs have the edge on Maribor with a win in their head to head.
- Draws in both games would maintain the status quo with qualification to be determined on the 6th December when Spurs play Panathinaikos in London and Maribor have home advantage over Lazio.
Lazio – Tough Opponents
Villas-Boas is aware of the severity of the task facing Tottenham in Rome tonight. Lazio were undefeated when they played in London at the end of September and were joint leaders in Seria A. Commenting on their performance at White Hart Lane he said,
“Lazio did well at White Hart Lane and are doing well in Serie A now. They have a good team and we respect them.”
Lazio are currently in 5th position in Seria A with 23 points from 13 matches. They have won seven games and drawn two League matches this season. Their first League defeats of the season came immediately after the draw at White Hart Lane when they lost at home to Genoa (0 – 1), their only home defeat, and away to Napoli (0 – 3). Their other defeats were at Fiorentina (0 – 2) at the end of October and at Catania (0 – 4) at the beginning of this month. The last two results have shown a return to form with a 3 – 2 home win over local rivals, Roma and a scoreless draw against the Seria A leaders, Juventus, in Turin.
Their leading goalscorer in the experienced German striker, Miroslav Klose, who has 8 goals – 7 in the League and one in European games. The Brazilian midfielder, Hernanes, has scored 6 with five of them in the Seria A games. The Czech striker, Libor Kozák is the danger man in European matches with 4 goals. He scored two of the goals in their 3 – 0 against Panathinaikos in their last Europa League game.
Tottenham’s last match in Italy was a classic European performance against AC Milan in the Champions League where Spurs secured a 1 – 0 win the the 1st leg game. Spurs will require a performance of similar discipline and application in Rome tonight if their hopes of progressing to the next stage of the competition are not to be dashed. Having lost their last three Premier League games, a defeat would further reduce confidence and morale within the team. On all counts, therefore, a win is essential as Spurs try to recover from their early season inability to close out games, especially the two draws in Greece and Slovenia. A draw could be acceptable, leaving Spurs hope for another day and a must win game against Panathinaikos next month. It has been a close group from the outset and may well continue in that vein for another set of matches with the top three teams having everything to play for in their final Group match.