Any notion of Juande Ramos being a romantic as he returns to the scene of his greatest – and first – triumph can be shelved. It was at PSV Eindhoven's home, the Philips Stadium, that he won the Uefa Cup for the first time two years ago. Although he spoke of the "fantastic memories" and the "beautiful precious experience" of his Seville side's thumping 4-0 victory over Middlesbrough that May evening, he also added that it had little bearing on what now faces Tottenham Hotspur.
There was no sentiment either for two of Spurs' players with the left-backs Lee Young-Pyo and Gilberto left behind as the squad – which included Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Jermaine Jenas – headed for the Netherlands yesterday. Lee is a former PSV player but has been excluded because, to put it bluntly, he is not as good as the others and Gilberto, a £2m acquisition from Hertha Berlin in January, "has not been selected to travel. He's not injured, he's training in London".
It was the Brazil international's blunder on his debut that handed PSV their 1-0 advantage in this tie and although Gilberto scored when coming on against West Ham at the weekend, there is to be no shot at redemption from Ramos right now as he aims for a place in the last eight. "One mistake has cost us," the Spaniard said curtly. And Gilberto has paid the price.
It is that hard edge, along with Ramos's undoubted nous and self-belief, which may just haul Spurs through against the Eredivisie leaders and allow their head coach the chance to win this trophy for an unprecedented third time in a row. "I would like to walk out for a third time [in the final]," Ramos, whose Seville side retained the cup last season, said, "but it is not a normal thing to even win it twice."
But then Ramos's record in cup competitions, enhanced by that Carling Cup win against Chelsea last month, is not normal either. He recalled overhauling Shakhtar Donetsk last season, as Seville appeared to be on their way out, adding: "in every competition there are moments when it is very tight and can go either way".
There has been some concern in the Spurs camp that because PSV's league match against Ajax was called off at the weekend – because of police strike action – they will be fresher. "The worry will be if it goes to extra-time," Ramos said, although Spurs need to score for that to happen. He promised they will try to do it "early" so that "nerves do not creep in". "We need to play with maximum intensity," Ramos added. "We need to get our weapons out. Tottenham always play to win, whether we start 0-0, winning 1-0 or losing 1-0. We have no other type of football or concept of playing. We are going to play like we always do and nothing more."
That means he needs a big performance, above all, from Dimitar Berbatov. The tactics, according to Didier Zokora, will be clear. "He [Ramos] is very strong tactically," the midfielder said. "But for us we have to score a goal and that is the tactic." With the European swimming championships also starting in Eindhoven today, Spurs are ready to take the plunge.
PSV Eindhoven (probable, 4-3-3): Gomes; Kromkamp, Marcellis, Salcido, Alcides; Culina, Simons, Mendez; Farfan, Lazovic, Affelay.
Tottenham Hotspur (probable, 4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Woodgate, King, Tainio; Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, Malbranque; Keane, Berbatov.
Referee: M Trefoloni (Italy).