Last spring I picked my class schedule with only two thoughts in mind:
- Have Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons off.
Part two was supposed to be so I would never miss a Champions League match. I worked my scheduled perfectly two years ago and was able to pace in the exact same spot of the bar all tournament, until the match at the Bernabeu when I started kicking things instead. This year was supposed to be the same, preferably without the rage.
The Chelsea happened. The team without good players that was supposed to be hopelessly outclassed by every opponent won the damn Champions League and booted Spurs from the competition.
Now Tottenham are in the Europa League.
The Europa League is actually pretty cool if taken seriously, as Spurs are expected to this year. Whereas Harry Redknapp thought the competition was a nuisance, Andre Villas-Boas likes it. He even won it two years ago with Porto and has vowed to try to win the Europa League.
Trying to win may seem like stating the obvious, but after the way Spurs treated the competition last year, actually trying to win represents a change in philosophy.
It's a good that that Spurs are going to give it a real go, too, because they are going to need their best against Lazio. Led by Hernanes and Miroslav Klose, Lazio have taken six points from two Serie A matches this year. Those matches were against Palermo and Chievo so Lazio were not exactly tested, but 3-0 and 3-1 are impressive and they are not short on talent.
Lazio are going to test Spurs, but if Tottenham are going to have any success in the Europa League they will have to be excellent at home and that begins on Thursday.
Emmanuel Adebayor will miss the match, leaving Jermain Defoe as the only true striker at Villas-Boas' disposal. Against a physical defense, that could be a problem, but that concern should be mitigated by the midfield.
But Villas-Boas is spoiled for choice in the midfield and Spurs could rest Aaron Lennon, Moussa Dembele or Sandro and not be accused of taking the match lightly. It is that unit that has to be excellent against Lazio and thoroughly dominate the match because while Hernanes is fantastic, Spurs are better in the middle. Simply showing that upperhand should be enough to boss the match.
Unfortunately, no matter how exciting it is to welcome Lazio to town or play for another trophy, the Europa League is just another reminder of the Champions League missed. Stupid Chelsea.