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Fiorentina manager calls Tottenham "favorites" for Europa clash

Paulo Sousa knows this is a different Spurs squad then the one they dumped in Florence a year ago.

Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Fiorentina might have knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League last season, but La Viola manager Paulo Sousa says this is a very different Tottenham team than the one they faced in 2015. Speaking in a pre-match press conference, Sousa spoke highly of Tottenham and said that he expected a very competitive match when the two sides face off in Florence Thursday afternoon.

"It's a different Tottenham from last year. Also from the point of view of tournaments. Players have come into their squad who are giving more and they've managed to rotate throughout the season while maintaining very high levels, and that's important.

They have a lot of quality, so even an injury doesn't make them weaker. They're more consistent and in fact they have more points.

They're rotating even against the big teams and continuing to win. They haven't played against us so far though, and we have to go for it."

Fiorentina dumped a very different Spurs team in Florence, one that started Roberto Soldado up top and a CB pairing of Vlad Chiriches and Federico Fazio. Even Tottenham's rotated sides are significantly better than what they put out last season. For that reason, Sousa is anticipating a much tougher test this time around.

"They have so many players that increase the value of the team, particularly in attack. Mainly on a physical level, but also in terms of running and change of pace.

They're a team who play an intense style throughout the match and they're used to these kind of games. Yes, you could call them favourites.

But we maintain a 50 per cent chance, because of our attitude of playing to win. This is a game which is almost like the Champions League, high level, competitive, technical, tactical and physical.

It will allow us to improve our play against teams which rotate in every game, unlike those in the Italian League."

Fiorentina's not the easiest draw and would seem to match up well against Spurs at first glance. Mohamed Salah has moved on to Roma, but Josep Ilicic and Nikola Kalinic have each scored ten goals for a club that is currently third in Serie A. Expect this to be a stiff test for Tottenham in the first leg of their Europa League knock-out journey.