In his elation after Thursday’s Europa League draw with Lyon and Tottenham’s late dramatic progression to a match with Inter Milan in the next round, Andre Villas-Boas was rather caught up in the moment and talked of the possibility of Spurs going on to win the competition. He acknowledged the strength of opposition that Inter will provide but it is rather early to be discussing winning the Europa League as the competition enters the Round of the last-16.
In his post match interview reported in the Telegraph, Andre Villas-Boas said,
The Tottenham manager has fully supported the Europa League this season, playing strong teams throughout the competition and it has always been on his wish-list as a possible trophy for the club to lift. Villas-Boas has an affinity with the Europa League as his Porto team lifted the trophy in 2011 and as a manager he has never been knocked out of the competition. It is good to see his enthusiasm for Tottenham’s prospects in the competition but it needs to be tempered with caution or Spurs will be accused of being beyond themselves.
“If you can go through against Inter Milan and Lyon, it puts you in a good place to win the Europa League.”
There are still sixteen very strong clubs left in the competition, many with considerable experience in the Champions League so no match will be easy. Last Thursday’s results saw the elimination of the holders, Atletico Madrid, knocked out by Rubin Kazan, and Ajax Amsterdam who were anxious to progress to the latter stages as the Final is to be played at their home ground.
Tottenham making claims about winning the competition at this early stage is rather like England talking of winning next year’s World Cup in Brazil, before they have finished the Group stages, just because they defeated Brazil in a low-key friendly at Wembley earlier in the month.
Other clubs may have made similar claims to their national media but we will not be as aware of them due to our lack of ability to read many of their languages. You can rest assured that the claims of an English club will have been widely read by clubs and supporters around Europe and noted for future reference as something to use as motivation if the need arises.
Villas-Boas has always taken the Europa League seriously and spoke enthusiastically about the competition even ahead of the opening matches and he’s aware of Tottenham’s previous successes in the competition when it was the UEFA Cup. Before the home game against Lazio in September, talking about his success with Porto he was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying,
“This time it would be wonderful to win it again for Tottenham.”
The Head Coach is looking forward to the matches with Inter where he worked with Jose Mourinho and he wants to recreate the atmosphere of Tottenham’s Champions League clashes with the Italian club in 2010. From his interview the Metro reported,
“We had two magnificent games against Inter in the Champions League and we just want to recreate those special nights that everyone remembers.”
To win the Europa League would be a fantastic climax to the season for Tottenham but there’s still six matches to be played before the Final in May. Supporters had high hopes for Spurs in this season’s FA Cup when we were drawn against Leeds United, and we know what happened then, so we will have to control our exuberance and claims after the win over Lyon. There’s still a long road for Tottenham to travel before the Europa League Final in Amsterdam.