Andre Villas-Boas: Europa League deserves respect says Tottenham manager
Thursday 04 October 2012
Andre Villas-Boas is struggling to understand why the Europa League is valued so poorly in England. The Tottenham Hotspur manager's career took off two years ago when won the competition with Porto. In that campaign he won four trophies, then replaced Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea.
The former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp described participating in the tournament as a "punishment" but ahead of today's Group J encounter in Panathinaikos his successor said: "The profile of the competition is raised in other countries, but not England. I don't understand it.
"I'm also not in a position to criticise other managers' approach to the competition. I respect the competition. I certainly think it is viewed as a punishment in England and I cannot understand why. It is a traditional trophy. We have lost the Cup Winners' Cup, which I did not think was a good decision. But it was taken to enrich the Europa League."
The last time Spurs were in Greece to play in the Europa League, Redknapp made his contempt towards the competition clear when he fielded a side with an average age of 23. In contrast, Villas-Boas picked almost his entire first team for the 0-0 draw against Lazio in the first match of this campaign.
The goalkeeper Brad Friedel was the only fit senior squad member not to make the trip to Athens and Villas-Boas believes success in Europe can help Tottenham's chances of lifting the ultimate prize in European football. "For us to go on and eventually win the Champions League we have to get used to playing in these situations, both physically and mentally," he said. "I am always to field the strongest team possible. And that can be a benefit in the learning process."
Friedel's absence means Hugo Lloris is likely to make his second start since his £8m move from Lyons. Emmanuel Adebayor has not travelled with the team due to a hamstring injury, but could be fit for Sunday's home game against Aston Villa.
Panathinaikos (4-4-1-1): Karnezis; Vyntra, Boumsong, Velaquez, Spyropoulos; Christodoulopoulos, Mavrias, Vitolo, Zeca; Sissoko; Fornaroli.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Vertonghen; Dembele, Huddlestone; Townsend, Sigurdsson, Bale; Defoe.
Referee F Meyer (Ger).
TV ITV4 6pm kick-off.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea transfer news: Blues linked with £43m deal for Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 player ratings: Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata on target - but who scored highest?
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
Cristiano Ronaldo sticks up for Japanese boy after he struggles to speak Portuguese
Patrice Evra points to 'Manchester United blood' after Carlos Tevez inspires Juventus win over Real Madrid
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP