Tottenham Hotspur have been drawn into Group J for the Europa League with Panathanaikos, Lazio and NK Maribor. It's a somewhat tricky draw with Lazio a good team and Panathanaikos a challenge. That all three tams are in central or Eastern Europe doesn't help either.
Andre Villas-Boas has said that he plans to take the Europa League seriously, which is no surprise. He won the tournament two years ago with FC Porto so he knows what success in the competition is like and what it can do for a club. That Europa League title took Porto from a nice Portuguese story to a team even the snobbiest of fans respected and Villas-Boas from a promising manager to one of the most sought-after young managers in the world.
Villas-Boas' approach is very different from the way that Harry Redknapp treated the competition. To him, it was no more than a nuisance and it showed in the teams he sent out for Europa competitions. They were largely youth teamers and reserves, which made it no surprise when Spurs went out in the group stage last year.
Whether taking the competition seriously this year is a good thing isn't so cut and dry. While the stature of the tournament has grown and winning the tournament is something to be very proud of, it requires a lot of matches and if it the toll of the tournament costs the club in league then it might not be worth it.
But if the club is going to take the tournament seriously then they might as well do well. This isn't a particularly good draw, with long-ish flights to Italy, Slovenia and Greece and some solid teams in the group, but it is one that Spurs can and should advance from if they take it seriously.
Also of note from the draw are the draws of Liverpool and Newcastle. The Reds were drawn into Group A with Udinese, Young Boys and Anzhi Makhachkala, while the Magpies join Bordeaux, Club Brugge and Limassol in Group D.
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