Villas-Boas to play strong team against Inter despite healthy lead
Bale to miss San Siro tie through suspension
Gylfi Sigurdsson scores a goal against Inter Milan in the first leg at White Hart Lane. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Andre Villas-Boas has no plans to rest his best players tonight, as Tottenham look to complete their demolition of Inter Milan without the services of Gareth Bale.
Spurs have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League after Bale inspired the team to a 3-0 victory in the first leg of their last-16 tie last week.
Despite the drubbing, Inter are expected to rest a number of their top players for the clash at the San Siro as their priority is to qualify for the Champions League via Serie A, where they currently sit in joint fifth position after a disappointing loss against Bologna at the weekend.
Although Tottenham lost ground in their own hunt for Champions League qualification on Sunday when they lost to Liverpool, Villas-Boas is determined to land the Europa League trophy and will therefore resist the temptation to rest the likes of Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele and Jermain Defoe.
“No chance,” the Tottenham manager said when asked if was considering fielding a weakened team. “There is no scoreline that could make us change six or seven players so we will play a strong team to make sure we go through in this competition. We take this game very seriously.”
One star man Villas-Boas has no other option than to do without is Bale, who received a one-match suspension for his third caution of the competition last week.
The Welshman announced himself on the world stage here at the San Siro in 2010 with a superb hat-trick against Inter, and he has since gone on to become one the most devastating forwards in European football.
The 23-year-old has bagged 21 goals for Tottenham this season – leading to claims that Spurs are overly-reliant on the pacy forward.
Tottenham have dropped seven points from the eight games Bale has not played in this season, and Villas-Boas is confident that Spurs will be fine without their talisman tomorrow night.
“We’ve been in situations where he is not with us and we got results,” the 35-year-old said.
“Gareth can make a difference in any game, we know. We will miss him but we won’t want to prove anything without him because we believe a lot in ourselves and also we believe in Gareth. It’s not a case of proving anything. We just want to do our job to get through.”
Making the last eight of the competition at the expense of a club who have won three Champions Leagues and 18 Serie A titles would reaffirm Tottenham’s position as favourites to reach the final and lift the trophy in Amsterdam on May 15th.
“We had very difficult draws for the last 32 and last 16 in Lyon and Inter Milan.
“They are two teams used to playing Champions League football and who are full of European experience,” Villas-Boas said.
“It’s been a brilliant experience so far and it shows the route we’ve chosen to take, by playing it seriously, has paid off in terms of these fixtures, which has been amazing.
“Hopefully if we can manage to overcome Inter we can put ourselves in a strong position (to win it), although we admit there are still some very strong teams in the mix.”
Villas-Boas confirmed Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor have travelled to Milan after they overcame the respective hamstring and knee injuries that ruled them out of the Liverpool game.
The Spurs boss will start Brad Friedel in goal ahead of Hugo Lloris, and the former Blackburn stopper has warned his team-mates they must not think they have already won the tie when the step out on the famous turf of the Giuseppe Meazza stadium tomorrow.
“We will play it like it’s 0-0,” the 41-year-old said.
“It’s a difficult place to play so we will have to be at our best. You have to take the 3-0 out of your mind.”