Villas-Boas defends Europa League
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has urged UEFA to backtrack on their plans to scrap the Europa League in favour of an expanded Champions League competition.
UEFA President Michel Platini has confirmed he is considering a plan to stage a 64-team Champions League competition and abandon the Europa League to accommodate the move, but the Tottenham boss has rejected the plan.
Villas-Boas is a big supporter of the second-string UEFA competition which he won with FC Porto in 2011 and has expressed his desire for the competition to be given a stay of execution ahead of his side's Group J match against Panathinakos on Thursday night.
"We have already lost the Cup-Winners' Cup to an extended Europa League and for me it would be a disappointment if we lost this competition as well," Villas-Boas said. "Increasingly, you have to remove the name Champions from the Champions League competition because it doesn't make any sense and I don't know what others feel about this proposal.
"For me, I like this competition, I am proud to be in it and our attitude to the competition has shown that this season.
"We feel it is more than possible to embrace this competition and take it seriously and you can see that a couple of our best performances this season came after Europa League games. It will mean a lot to us to get through to the knock-out stage."
Tottenham need a win or a draw against their Greek opponents to move through to the knock-out stages of the competition, with Villas-Boas warning their visitors will be potent opposition at what is set to be a chilly White Hart Lane.
"Panathinakos have put themselves in a great position," he said. "They have come back almost from the dead in this competition to leave us with a final game where the winning [team] will go through. We have taken this competition very seriously and we want to go through."
Tottenham head into the game without the injured Gareth Bale, though striker Emmanuel Adebayor is available after missing the last three Premier League games due to suspension. Goalkeeper Brad Friedel will start for the first time since losing his place in the Spurs side to Hugo Lloris.