Europa League: Distraction or attraction?

 
As we get ready to face Fiorentina tonight in the knockout stages of the Europa League, we ask whether or not progression in the competition is really worth it for Spurs at this stage of the season.

Rewind to the start of the season and ask Spurs fans which route to the Champions League was more likely: Europa League victory or a Top 4 finish, and the majority would say winning UEFA’s B tournament would be the most feasible route to Champions League football. However, due to a remarkable transformation at Tottenham, that leaves us two points off top with twelve games remaining, priorities have shifted at White Hart Lane.

Currently ten points clear of an insipid Manchester United side that sit in 5th, it seems as if Champions League qualification through league placement is all but assured for Spurs this year, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side continue to look up rather than behind them.  

Spurs have won five matches on the bounce as they challenge at the Premier League summit

So then, as the Tottenham squad boarded a flight bound for Florence to play a Thursday night tie against an awkward Fiorentina side, many fans pondered, is it really worth it? Following Europa League games this season Tottenham have only won 2 out of 6 games player. Drawing another 3 and losing the other. This isn’t as bad as seasons previous as Pochettino’s side has got fitter, better and younger. But as we progress into the business end of the Premier League season with Spurs in the midst of a title race, any dropped points could be crucial.  

This means that many are hoping to see a team full of youngsters and fringe player take the field in Florence tonight. However, whilst rotation is key and important players need to be rested, it would be unwise to simply throw away the competition. Winning is a habit and any drop in form or focus even for a cup tie that may not hold the same importance the league games now do, could potentially de-rail the momentum the side have worked so hard to achieve the last few months.  

The fact that there hasn’t been silverware at White Hart Lane since 2008 is also a factor to consider. Whilst the title is tantalisingly within grasp, and the more romantic fan would prefer to go for the FA Cup, Europa League glory is not to be sniffed at. A Europa League victory would give the young squad a taste of silverware, and help instil the winning mentality and hunger needed to go on and achieve even greater things. This year’s competition is more competitive than ever also, as sides such as Dortmund and Napoli remain active, and will look to add the trophy to their cabinets.

So, as the fixtures pile up, Tottenham need to be tactile but respectful in their approach to the cup competitions. The top sides in Europe don’t go into any game thinking a loss would benefit them, and that shouldn’t be the mentality we adopt, even with Premier League glory in sight. 

 

Written by Josh Smith

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