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Dec 6, 2012

AVB: 'Unfair' to reward Chelsea for failing

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas said Thursday that Chelsea does not deserve to be in the Europa League.

Chelsea backed into the secondary European competition by failing to qualify in the Champions League and finishing third in its group. Villas-Boas thinks it is unfair that the Blues, and the rest of the Champions League dropouts, are allowed into the tournament.

"I think it's extremely unfair," the Tottenham boss said. "It would be much fairer if the clubs came into the Europa League when they are knocked out of the last 16 of the Champions League. You can't give a bonus to teams who have failed, and in the situation as it stands, teams fail in the Champions League and are promoted to the Europa League, which, in my opinion, is a massive bonus.

"I've not made this up today. I have said this in UEFA meetings before. It's up to them to decide but I think it's not fair."

Tottenham booked its place in the last 32 of the Europa League with a nervy 3-1 win over Panathinaikos at White Hart Lane on Thursday.

Having finished second in Group J, Tottenham will not be seeded in the second round of the competition, meaning it could face Benfica, Olympiacos or CFR Cluj, which also drop in to the draw after being eliminated from the Champions League.

Villas-Boas, who managed Chelsea last season, will not be able to take on his former club until the next Europa League round as teams from the same country cannot face each other until the last 16.

Villas-Boas took Chelsea through to the second round of the Champions League before he was sacked following the club's first leg defeat to Napoli. He lasted just over eight months in the job.

The west London club then went on to win the tie before lifting the Champions League trophy for the first time in its history under Roberto Di Matteo, who has also since been sacked.

Villas-Boas, who won the Europa League with Porto in 2010, admitted he felt let down by the club's owner Roman Abramovich after his sacking and he thinks destiny could pit the two London clubs against each other in the last 16 of the competition should Spurs win beat their next opponents.

"Sometimes it's destiny. Hopefully if we go through we can meet each other," said Villas-Boas, who will learn who his team plays next on Dec. 20. They have a team that can win the trophy, so they will be up to the late stages of the competition. We hope to do so. If we cross it is going to be two magnificent games for sure."

Chelsea defender David Luiz said the Europa League could allow Chelsea to restore its European reputation following the "embarrassment" of becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.

"The Europa League is glamorous for me. I don't have this title so I want to win it," Luiz said. "I look to the Europa League like I did the Champions League because I don't have this medal. We can do great things in this competition.

"You have great games in the Europa League. There are great teams in this competition. Chelsea don't have this competition so they need to win this title."

That is exactly what Chelsea did in the Champions League last season in ending its agonizing wait to be crowned kings of Europe. Their reign will technically continue until May, but that was scant consolation to the club's red-faced players Wednesday.

"There was embarrassment in the dressing room and also sadness," Luiz said. "We won the Champions League last season and to get knocked out after the group stage is a great disappointment. This is a big club and big clubs deserve to play in big games. The best games in the world are in the Champions League."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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