Jose Mourinho has warned his players they face a “very, very dangerous” threat as they cannot afford to miss out on the Europa League.
Tottenham were given scares in the footballing backwaters of Bulgaria and Macedonia in their qualifying campaign to reach the play-off with Maccabi Haifa at White Hart Lane.
But Mourinho stressed from a financial point of view and also the dangers on the pitch because of their crowded fixture list that they simply cannot afford to go out.
Tottenham boss Mourinho said: “These knockout matches are very dangerous, because they are only one leg, very, very dangerous.
“We felt the fear in Bulgaria and we have to make sure we win it.
“One match, at home, away goals are not important. Penalties only after 30 minutes extra. We have to do everything to try and win it because it is very important for us on a sports level but also an economical level.
“We don’t play in the Champions League and the Champions League is a huge difference to the Europa League but going to the Europa League group phase gives us an important amount.
“On the sports side, it is a very difficult competition, different from the Champions League, difficult competition, lots of matches, lots of opponents, lots of travelling, much more travelling than in the Champions League, because that is much more concentrated in our side of Europe.
“Playing on Thursday, it is very, very difficult but it is a competition that we are very motivated to have a go and to try and win. Lots of good teams and better team will arrive later from the Champions League group phases.”
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Mourinho has incredible European pedigree, having won the Champions League twice, won the UEFA Cup at former club Porto and also the Europa League with Manchester United.
It is clearly not the stage he craves but a potential route back into the Champions League if Tottenham can navigate the huge pile-up of fixtures with players dropping like flies as Eric Dier needs a break and Heung-Min Son is out injured.
Mourinho hinted he would like England to rest Harry Kane in their Wembley treble header later this month.
But he also suggested that he has been pleased with Dele Alli’s attitude having dropped him again for the Chelsea Carabao Cup tie.
Mourinho, who expects Gareth Bale to be fit after the international break, added: “When Kane is fit, he also should start every game for Tottenham, but he didn’t yesterday. So I think this is the point.
“When you have such a player and you want to win every match, you play him, but you just can’t do it. You know, I believe that Gareth [Southgate] and Steve [Holland] they care about the players.
“That’s just my hope but I’m not going to call, or ask, or beg. I’m not going to press. I think they deserve their freedom and I have the utmost respect for them.
“I cannot confirm Dele’s playing tomorrow but I cannot confirm he’s not playing. We have still training sessions today, we have still decisions to make. The only thing I can say is he’s being very, very professional. I have only respect for him.
“He’s being very professional, particularly yesterday when the team was preparing for the game and he wasn’t.
“It would be perfectly acceptable to have a lack of motivation, even a lack of professionalism for this training session but it was exactly the opposite.
“He trained very hard yesterday. He has my respect and the respect of his teammates so it’s possible he plays tomorrow.”
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