Tottenham v Lazio: We’ll take Europa League seriously, insists Villas-Boas
Tottenham v Lazio: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas insists he will be taking the Europa League seriously this season
Andre Villas-Boas insists Tottenham Hotspur will take the Europa League seriously this season ahead of their opening Group J fixture against Lazio on Thursday.
Spurs missed out on a spot in the Champions League despite finishing in fourth place after Chelsea won Europe’s premier club competition in May.
But Villas-Boas is refusing to allow his players to take a relaxed approach to their Europa League campaign which starts with a tie against the Serie A side.
“I think the most important thing for you is to change [the mentality] of the players so this midweek game starts being important once again,” Villas-Boas said.
“Tottenham missed the Champions League through Chelsea winning it. But if this was a Champions League game most of the players would be willing and would be making sure they were completely fit.
“So, based on the respect that we must have for a competition like this, first we have to create the habit of them recovering to play in this midweek game, getting used to playing this midweek game, and therefore creating this habit.
“I think their mental disposition for the game, their physical disposition for the game, will be extremely higher than before.”
Villas-Boas revealed he is considering making a number of changes from the team that beat Reading 3-1 on Sunday, with a view to their London derby against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend.
“I think everybody is in contention,” Villas-Boas added. “Obviously we need to respect that the QPR game is just after this one, too, so some changes can be made in the team, even to the structure of the team.”
Tottenham v Lazio: Pre-match facts
• Spurs’ seven games against Italian teams have ended W3 D2 L2 – they famously reached the final of the inaugural Uefa Cup in 1972 after beating AC Milan over two legs in the semi-finals.
• Lazio have not won in their last seven outings against English clubs, a run which stretches back to a 2-1 win at Chelsea in the 1999-2000 Champions League second group stage.
• Tottenham have only won two of their last six European home games, with that run including two draws and defeats against Real Madrid (1-0) and PAOK (2-1).
• This is Lazio’s fourth attempt at the group stage; they failed to reach the knockout phase in their first two campaigns, but finally made it to the last 32 in 2011-12, losing to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.