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Mar 28, 2013

AVB sets Champions League points target

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes another 16 points will be enough to secure his side a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

• Blog: Will break prove a blessing?

A hat-trick of defeats in the week before the international break put a huge dent in Spurs' Champions League ambitions, yet Villas-Boas has insisted his players are not wilting under the pressure of their chase for Europe.

With 54 points to their credit from the 30 games they have played so far, the Portuguese suggests breaking through the 70-point mark will be enough for his team to achieve their objectives. However, he accepts their task has been damaged somewhat by their back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Fulham.

"Normally the 70-72 point margin is enough to be within those four spots, normally 70," Villas-Boas said. "We have 24 points to play for, so I think another 16 will be enough, but you never know what dictates. It is very unpredictable, but at this time we are within our objectives.

"Now there are eight games to the end of the season and most teams have to get their act together. We have done excellently to build a gap before, but with the two league defeats we have our opponents are a bit closer to us. We have to recognise that the conditions have changed. As it has shifted so quickly for us, it shifts very quickly for any team in the Premier League when you don't get results. We have to get our act together.

"My message to the fans is we are perfectly within our objectives. The margin is a little less than what it was before, but if we had this margin before, it was because we were excellent in doing our job. It doesn't mean we can't be excellent in doing our job again. We believe in the players and what they are doing."

Villas-Boas does not feel his players are suffering from a 'groundhog-day' scenario as they threaten to surrender a powerful position in the race for a top-four finish. Spurs let slip of a similar position this time last season and ultimately missed out on Champions League football.

"I don't think it is an issue," he said. "We have to reflect on this, like we did with the late goals we were conceding. This is something that has happened before, but it doesn't mean it has to happen again. Circumstances are different, training is different, the leader is different, players are different. At this moment, it has nothing to do with past experience, but [the mental side] is very, very important.

"The players feel inspired by our objectives. Fortunately for us, we have two competitions we are doing strongly in and the motivation to achieve our objectives in the league or to be in the Europa League final can only be a positive."

The Spurs boss went on to suggest progress has been made in his first season at the club, even if they miss out on a top-four spot.

"Our objective ultimately is Champions League qualification," he said. "If we don't achieve it, we have to consider the steps forward made this season as a positive not only for the club and its surroundings, but in terms of the team going forward bearing in mind the key players the team lost from last season to this one.

"[Champions League qualification] is not a requirement for this season, but it is an obligation going into to the future. If you want to move forward, you move forward by qualifying for the Champions League."

Villas-Boas confirmed that all of his players came through the international break without injury, with talisman Gareth Bale fit and ready to return to Swansea on Saturday four days after he played for Wales at the Liberty Stadium.

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