Chadli: Europa League is much more important now but Spurs are unlucky to face Fiorentina
Nacer Chadli believes the Europa League has become a much more important competition this season now the winners are awarded a place in the Champions League.
But the Belgian feels Spurs have had an unlucky draw in the last 32 of the tournament as they prepare to face Italian outfit Fiorentina.
The Viola lie fourth in Serie A and are unbeaten in their last nine European away games as they prepare for tomorrow night’s clash at White Hart Lane.
“The Europa League is much more important,” said Chadli. “The winner goes straight into the Champions League and everybody wants to go into the Champions League so this competition is very serious. We know it’s not going to be easy but we know our quality.
“We could have had a better draw than this because I’ve played a lot of Europa League and I’ve never had to play against such a good team at this stage of the competition, but that’s the draw and we have to play the games.
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“I think Fiorentina are a strong side who can play good football, they’re one of the best in Italy and they have quality players up front and in defence. They’re very organised and we have to play with a lot of tempo and to be strong at home to beat them because, if not, it’s going to be difficult to go there and get something.
“The team feels good, we’ve prepared well for this game and we know what we’re playing for. It’s a home game, we have to win it in front of our fans and hopefully we’ll get the victory.”
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The paradox for Tottenham is that it would take another nine games to win the Europa League – extra midweek fixtures which could easily undermine their efforts to finish in the top four of the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League through that route.
However, Chadli does not feel that the Lilywhites should prioritise either competition, believing that the best tactic it to keep their options open by staying alive in both of them.
“There are still a lot of games to win the Europa League, the same with the Premier Leaue – still 13 games,” he said. “We need to keep those two competitions in the pocket and see how far we can go.
“I think these games are very important for us – tomorrow is the most important against Fiorentina and we have to win it, then on Sunday we have a good game [against West Ham] too. But we’re just focused on the game tomorrow, it’s the most important now.
“The top four is something we can reach at Tottenham and, in the Europa League, we have to play every game like it’s the last one, like the final, and try to reach the final as well. We also have less than two weeks now until the Capital One Cup final and that’s going to be a good game.
“We have a strong squad with a lot of quality, a lot of players, so I think we can play all those games and compete in every competition.
“We’ve improved a lot as a team, we’ve learned how to play together and you can see our fitness is very good. We rarely have injured players and you can see we can play the full 90 minutes with a high tempo and that’s helped us in the games.”
Fiorentina are likely to keep a close eye on Spurs’ prolific striker Harry Kane, who has scored 23 goals for the club so far this season, but Chadli says that is nothing new now.
“I think Harry is a smart lad,” said the Belgian. “You can see in the last few games the defence has had a lot of focus on him but he just waits for the best moment and, in a few seconds, he gets the goal and makes the difference - and that’s why he’s such a good player. He works a lot and waits for his chance and then grabs it with both hands.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs