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Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas fully behind the Europa League

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 20:58 | Comments

Andre Villas-Boas won the Europa League with Porto and believes the competition is worth keeping
Andre Villas-Boas won the Europa League with Porto and believes the competition is worth keeping

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas believes talk of scrapping the Europa League is crazy as he bids to guide his side into the knockout stages.

Spurs will go through to the next round of the tournament Villas-Boas won with Porto in 2011 if they avoid defeat against Pana tomorrow night.

But these final round of group games are being played against the backdrop of suggestions that UEFA want to ditch the tournament in favour of an expanded and revamped Champions League.

"It's difficult for me (to accept)," Villas-Boas said. "We lost the Cup Winners' Cup and you miss it.

"Most clubs are in a difficult financial situation. Increasing the Champions League means you have to remove the name 'Champions' out of it as it would not make any sense.

"I think it would be an unpopular decision. Certainly for me it would be a disappointment."

Spurs will be confident of overcoming Panathinaikos tomorrow.

The Greek side snatched a lucky draw in the reverse fixture two months ago and their poor start to the season means they sit 16 points adrift of domestic league leaders Olympiacos.

Villas-Boas intends to rotate his team for the final Group J clash, with number one Hugo Lloris expected to make way for Brad Friedel, who has had to sit out the last five games despite being first choice at the start of the campaign.

The game has come too soon for long-term injury victims Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but they could return for next weekend's game against Swansea.

Gareth Bale, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-0 weekend win at Fulham, is also out.

While the domestic league table makes for ugly viewing, Panathinaikos have only lost twice since they earned a 1-1 draw against Spurs two months ago.

The reason behind their turnaround in fortunes has been put down to the appointment of Juan Ramon Rocha as manager following the sacking of Jesualdo Ferreira.

The Argentinian is excited about the prospect of taking to the turf at White Hart Lane given that it used to play host to two of his most celebrated compatriots almost three decades ago.

"I feel honoured to be here because I have been a big Tottenham fan since the late 1970s when Ricardo Villa and Ossie Ardiles used to play here."

Tottenham's pace makes them a threat on the counter, but Rocha intends to go all out attack as he knows only a win will guarantee his team passage to the last 32.

"Some teams like Chelsea have won the Champions League playing defensive football, but Panathinaikos is not a team who will do that," he said.

"We want to play modern, creative football. We know we are playing one of top teams in England. Panathinaikos play attacking football and we believe we can win."

Former Arsenal and Birmingham striker Quincy Owusu-Abeyie will miss tomorrow's game as he has a hamstring injury, Rocha confirmed.

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