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Conte concerned about fixture congestion, rules out Lucas for Champions League vs. Marseille

Spurs will go into their first Champions League match with a (nearly) healthy squad.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Antonio Conte and Tottenham Hotspur will begin their Champions League campaign tomorrow afternoon, hosting Marseille in the group stage opener for both teams. It’s a good opportunity for Spurs to start strong against a potentially tricky opponent, but it comes during a run of fixtures that is absolutely brutal.

Tottenham hosts Marseille, then travel to Manchester City for a Saturday afternoon Premier League fixture on Saturday before a trip to Lisbon to face Sporting in the UCL the following Tuesday. When asked in his pre-match press conference about Tottenham running into some fixture congestion early in the season, Conte admitted that he’s concerned about how many matches Spurs are playing in such a short period of time.

“Honestly to see this schedule about Tottenham is incredible, It’s crazy. We played three games in six days against Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Fulham, now we are playing after four days but we are starting to then play three important games against Marseille Champions League, City away, Sporting Lisbon away in six days. I think maybe first time in my career to see a schedule like this.

“Honestly I try to check the schedule of other teams and I have seen that in this situation Tottenham analysed a lot, our club our team. I think in the future in this situation we were unlucky. I think in the future also I speak with club that we have to pay great attention to speak also with Premier League because we have to pay attention when there are this type of schedule.

“One day more, one day less can change totally your life as you can drop points and I think this is not good for team like Tottenham. When you want to start to think as a winner you have to take care of the details. The schedule details is very important for every club, especially for club who want to fight for something important. I think we can do much better for the future.”

It’s a gauntlet of a stretch, for sure, and Spurs will need to carefully rotate in order to try and maximize points while also keeping players fit and healthy. To that end, Conte had some good news, saying that Spurs are almost completely fit, with only Lucas Moura ruled out of tomorrow’s match vs. Marseille.

“[Lucas] Moura is not available, not still available. I think tomorrow he starts to have a training session on the pitch. He has this inflammation in his tendon and I hope to recover him very soon because especially up front we need him.”

Conte was asked about Tottenham’s mindset going into tomorrow’s match, the first Champions League match for the club in three years. His answer implied that Tottenham know they aren’t favorites to win this competition, but have the potential to do well. Conte also continued to push his ongoing narrative that Spurs are only in the beginning stages of a long process of improvement.

“First of all we are talking today at a Champions League press conference for what we did last season and I think last season we did a fantastic job. Honestly it was difficult only to think about playing Champions League this season. Instead, for the work we did with great compactness between, we got this achievement.

“We must enjoy to play in this great competition in Europe. But we have to play to try and do our best. You know my thought: we have to play with great ambition, great passion and with great will to be a protagonist in this competition.

“I know very well this tournament is really difficult - the most difficult in the world. But at the same time it’s a great opportunity for us to show we are going in the right way and taking steps forward and we want to try to improve and give satisfaction to our fans and ourselves.”

Spurs kick off against Olympique Marseille at 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. BST. The match will be televised on BT Sport 4 and BT Sport 5 in the UK, and streamed on Paramount+ in the United States.