Tottenham v Panathinaikos: Villas-Boas praises ‘amazing’ Defoe
Tottenham v Panathinaikos: Andre Villas-Boas praises Jermain Defoe for the striker's "amazing" start to the season
Andre Villas-Boas has hailed Jermain Defoe’s “amazing” start to the season ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s crucial Europa League tie against Panathinaikos at White Hart Lane.
The England international has scored 12 goals in 17 appearances in all competitions this term, including a hat-trick against Maribor in Spurs’ last European home game.
The north London outfit can book their place in the Europa League knockout stage by beating Panathinaikos, and Villas-Boas is hoping Defoe can continue his sparkling form.
“He is amazing,” said Villas-Boas. “He is going through a very, very good moment of his career.
“He is extremely motivated, he has a smile on his face, [he is] a good professional and it’s good to see him delivering so much and doing his business, which is score goals.”
Villas-Boas, who won the competition with Porto in 2011, also empathised how seriously Tottenham are taking the Europa League, with the Spurs boss eying a last-32 place.
“We want to continue to take this competition as seriously as we have,” he added.
“I recall some good performances in the league after Europa League games so we firmly believe this competition can be approached in a different way. We hope we can go though, that is the main focus, and it will mean a lot for the way we have embraced this competition.”
Pre-match facts: Tottenham v Panathinaikos
• The sides drew 1-1 when they met for the first time on matchday two. Michael Dawson headed the English team ahead in a first half, but Spurs paid for a lapse of concentration as Toche levelled with13 minutes remaining.
• Spurs’ five games against Greek clubs have ended W1 D2 L2. They met PAOK in last season’s group stage, drawing 0-0 in Salonika and losing 2-1 in London. They have not won in four matches against Greek opposition.
• Panathinaikos’s record in 17 games against English teams is W1 D6 L10. That lone victory came against Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal in the Champions League group stage on 26 September 2001.
• Panathinaikos ended a run of three straight defeats in London (all against Arsenal) when they drew 1-1 with the Gunners in their most recent visit to England, in the 2004/05 Champions League group stage.