Tottenham were eliminated from the Europa League last week at the hands of Swiss side FC Basel, going out on penalties at the quarter-final stage. Andre Villas-Boas’ attitude to the competition was positive from the start, largely down to his experience of winning the tournament with Porto. However, given the level of effort in overcoming the likes of Inter Milan and Lyon, Spurs’ domestic form has dipped, which now threatens their chances of finishing in the top four.
With six games remaining Spurs find themselves in fifth place, out of the top four for the first time since the start of the campaign. With tough games against Chelsea and Manchester City still to play, the north Londoners will really need to up their efforts if they are to claw Arsenal back and secure a place in next term’s Champions League.
The Europa League is a tricky competition to negotiate; it seems like it is either a tournament you look to go out to win or be eliminated in early doors. The fact that Spurs have relinquished their positive results against Inter and Lyon by being put out by Basel means that they have done neither, and now could be stuck in the same situation next season with a fifth-placed finish. Tottenham have been backed (using FREEbets) at 2.50, but the toll of European football just might have left the Andre Villas-Boas bandwagon without the momentum to go any further this season.
Villas-Boas’ outlook to take the tournament seriously is admirable, and the victories that Spurs have recorded have been enjoyed by the White Hart Lane faithful. However, the real objective must be Champions League football, which may now be beyond them given the travel and exertions in the Europa League, and the knock-on results domestically.
Missing out on the top four has widespread repercussions for Tottenham. Gareth Bale will be pursued this summer by some of Europe’s top teams, and if Spurs miss out on the Champions League the Welsh attacker may well be tempted to jump ship, just as Luka Modric did last summer. Arsenal have looked far from the side that has been superior to Tottenham over the last ten years this term, and the opportunity to finally finish ahead of the Emirates Stadium outfit could have been thrown away.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but most Spurs fans would trade the victories over Inter and Lyon for a chance to play in next term’s Champions League. Perhaps more strength in depth to compete on two fronts is needed, but one thing is for sure; the entire club and its long-suffering fans will be pained at the hands of gloating Arsenal supporters should Spurs throw their season away once again.