Villas-Boas: Spurs are superior to Basel
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has claimed his side are superior to Europa League quarter-final opponents FC Basel and he has challenged his players to turn their dreams into reality by reaching the final of the competition in Amsterdam next month.
Villas-Boas lifted the Europa League trophy as FC Porto boss two years ago and he has insisted the prestige of the competition cannot be questioned, even though he conceded success in this competition cannot be compared to Champions League glory.
"We have to admit we have superior players," stated Villas-Boas when asked to compare his squad to that of Basel's ahead of the first leg of the last eight tie at White Hart Lane on Thursday night. "However, the experience that Basel have, the fact that they play in the Champions League, the fact that they are a winning team and regular trophy winners makes them one of the favourites.
"Obviously they have recent European experience that we don't have. They have tremendous results in past years with Man United, Sporting Lisbon, teams like Bayern, teams they have surprised. They put out Zenit, a very strong team and we expect a tough game.
"We have beaten some big, big teams. Lazio and Panathinakos in the group phase, Lyon and Inter. Basel go along those lines and it makes a very difficult opponent for us. The teams we have beaten already are highly prestigious, Basel we have to include on that level."
While stressing that a top four finish in the Premier League remains a priority for Tottenham this season, Villas-Boas re-iterated his belief that there is space in his side's busy end of season schedule for another five Europa League games.
"I won this trophy with Porto and it was a wonderful experience," he said. "It doesn't have the importance of the Champions League, but it is a tremendous competition, very difficult to win.
"We had experiences with Inter and Lyon that can help our future and in the knock-out phase everyone is inspired by the idea of winning the competition. The quarter-finals is a big, big step and when you reach the semi-final, that dream can become a reality. You are very close and you want to at least be involved in that final. We are striving to achieve it."
Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker joined his manager in urging his team-mates to respect Basel, as he is anticipating a tight battle against the Swiss league leaders.
"I have seen them play against Man United earlier this season and they are a very good team who are used to winning. It's going to be a very tough game," stated Parker.
"It would be massive for me personally and massive for all of us in the changing room to win the competition. We have gone on a good run, it is a tough competition with a lot of good teams in it, but we are getting to the business end now and we have to try and go all the way."