Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris shared some of their insight on how they view Thursday’s match-up against Gent in the Europa League.
After a difficult loss to Liverpool last Saturday at Anfield, Mauricio Pochettino has to get his squad’s mindset back on track when they face Gent tomorrow in the Europa League’s first leg in the Round of 32.
Attempting to get Tottenham’s confidence levels back though won’t be that easy.
The Argentine manager has the inevitable task of selecting a strong starting XI to not only challenge Gent over two legs, if Tottenham wishes to advance further in Europe, but Pochettino must also make sure that his players are well rested for Sunday’s cross-London trip to take on Fulham in the FA Cup’s fifth round.
With a total of three matches coming in fast in seven days, before Tottenham takes on Stoke City at White Hart Lane on February 26, Spurs will be overworked to say the least.
That said, Tottenham’s starting players are keen on playing tomorrow and don’t want to rest, in hopes of righting the ship when they dropped a huge game against the Reds away.
“I think they’re in good condition,” Pochettino said. “What happened against Liverpool, all the players want the chance to play again and try and change the feeling.”
“But we’ll see. Maybe we will make some changes, but not too many.”
Depending on whoever Pochettino decides to start, Spurs can’t take Gent too lightly.
Otherwise it will be a repeat of what happened two years ago when Tottenham faced Anderlecht and promptly lost 2-1 by assuming it would be an easy win.
Despite plenty of fixtures that will keep the north London club busy, this is something that Mauricio Pochettino relishes. Pochettino isn’t opposed to a congested schedule.
Being involved in many competitions is just another way for the 44-year-old manager to try and win some trophies than just sit back and relax. Waiting for the next game to come like other clubs.
“I’m happy to be involved in different competitions, the Europa League and the FA Cup.”
“We are now in a period where we have a few games, one tomorrow and another in the FA Cup on Sunday at Fulham, then Thursday again and Stoke at home. It’s true, it’s not easy.”
“But we need to be fresh in our minds to take better decisions for the team that don’t affect results. You need all the squad involved and feeling important. It’s like this.”
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“But I like to compete. Some teams, like Chelsea or Liverpool, have three or four days holidays, off, to try and prepare for a week-and-a-half for a Premier League game.”
“But I prefer to be busy and try and win some titles. That, for me, is the best way to be.”
“Our position in the table in the Premier League is good. Then the objective is to try to win against Gent, to try to go to the next stage. In the FA Cup, the same. The same spirit, the same aims for us.”
Hugo Lloris agreed with Pochettino in terms of having the right kind of team spirit when Spurs play tomorrow.
While the Europa League isn’t on the same level as the Champions League, Tottenham are a team who have ambitions to win trophies and take that next step to become a big European club.
And starting with Europe’s secondary club competition is the next logical step outside of domestic cups like the League Cup and FA Cup.
“In your mind it has to be like the Champions League,” Lloris said.
“It’s still a good competition to win and we’re all ambitious. We want to go as far as possible. But, for that, we have to be focused, to switch on our minds and be ready for a fight.”
“Football is always about basics. Look at the Liverpool game: it’s not about tactics or technique. It was more about the spirit and, in a cup game, the spirit is the key.”
“Against Gent, we need to play at 100 percent because our opponents will be ready to fight and compete against us.”
Tottenham are determined to get things right and their mindset seems to be in the right state of mind according to Mauricio Pochettino and Hugo Lloris.
Whether it’s enough to get Spurs back to winning ways with Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose and Érik Lamela still nursing injuries, no one knows.
But facing Gent in the Europa League can definitely help as a lot is on the line — advancing to the next round and winning the entire tournament to secure a Champions League spot.