After several rounds of qualifying, Tottenham Hotspur is set to officially open their 2020-21 Europa League campaign tomorrow afternoon with a home match against Austrian side LASK at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. As is customary, Jose Mourinho held a press conference today, and while Spurs still have a couple of players out, Mourinho has more or less a full squad to choose from.
Mourinho confirmed that central defenders Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga have both been ruled out of contention, but said that everyone else is available for selection. That means that there’s a decent chance that we could see Giovani Lo Celso, who has missed the past few weeks due to injury, and Erik Lamela who was left out of the West Ham squad due to a knock.
Here’s how Mourinho (somewhat testily) answered when asked for details on who might play on Thursday.
“The only player that I confirm [is starting] is Davinson Sanchez because he comes to the press conference and I hope you have many questions for him but don’t ask him any questions about the amazing goal he scored on Sunday!
“I’m not going to answer and tell the team. Only Davinson. We have everybody selected. These guys are not old fashioned like the Premier League and they allow us to go with a squad of 23 players, so everybody is selected.
“[Japhet] Tanganga and Eric Dier are still injured and apart from that, and the boys I had to leave outside the Europa League [squad], everybody is selected.”
In theory, that means we could also see players like Carlos Vinicius and Gareth Bale get handed starts, but it’s Mourinho so it’s likely we’ll see a mixture of established first team players and rotation options.
Either way, Mourinho said his goal is to win the entire competition.
“We’re going to try [to win it all]. It’s the third time I played in the competition and the other two times, one with Porto and one with United, we managed to win it. So the record in the Europa League is great, never knocked out. Of course, [I] lost a few matches in the group phase but managed always to win it.
“It is difficult, it is a very long competition, the group phase is tricky then you go to the knockouts and you get teams coming from the Champions League which is very unfair. If you play Champions League and you don’t qualify you go home. In the Europa League group phase if you finish third you go home, you don’t have another competition to play.
“It is what it is. A very long competition and difficult, but at this moment let’s focus on the points we need, 10, 11 points you need to qualify through the group stage.”
The match against LASK kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. BST. Spurs’ next Premier League match is a trip to Burnley on Monday.