Tottenham Hotspur vs. Lyon preview: It's Champions League prep

Paul Gilham

Call it a test or call it preparation -- Lyon is all about the Champions League for next season.

Andre Villas-Boas is treating Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League tie against Olympique Lyon as if it was a Champions League tie, but not in the way you might think. Instead of using it prove just how great the Europa League is and to justify his prioritization of the competition, he wants it to be Champions League preparation for next season.

"This could be a test of whether we're good enough to play in the Champions League,'' Villas-Boas said. "I think we've been handed the most difficult draw of this knock-out phase. This is like a Champions League tie.

"Lyon represent a club with tremendous Champions League experience in recent years. It will be a good test for Tottenham. It's always going to be a learning experience for us and I think it can serve that purpose towards the future, that's for sure.''

Someone would be wise to remind Villas-Boas that this was the point in last season when Spurs tanked and went from a sure-fire third place finish to out of a Champions League place.

Villas-Boas isn't wrong aout Lyon's stature, though. They were in a Champions League semifinal four years ago, in the knockout stages a year ago and currently sit second in Ligue 1 so they are staring at another European adventure.

Bafetimbi Gomis is one of the best strikers in France and along with Lisandro Lopez and Yoann Gourcuff will challenge a Spurs back line that is in a state of flux right now. it appears as if William Gallas will start, but there is no indication as to who will start next to him.

One that that is clear is Hugo Lloris will not be in goal trying to stop his former team. Brad Friedel will get the nod in between the sticks, robbing us of announcers talking about Lloris, Lyon and how badly Daniel Levy Levy'd the French club for 90 minutes.

With the first leg at home, Spurs need a win, and preferably a clean sheet that they can take to France next week. A few extra goals from the Emmanuel Adebayor-led attack wouldn't hurt either.

This is the big time. After all, this is the test for the Champions League Tottenham hasn't qualified for yet.

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