Basel vs. Tottenham: What Europa League Triumph Would Mean for Spurs
For Spurs, the match means more than just advancing to the semifinals of a European competition: It could determine the direction of the club's future endeavors.
On the surface, it makes sense for Tottenham supporters to be skeptical about the match's implications.
After all, the North London club is in the midst of a battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League and earn a berth in next season's Champions League. Hence, Spurs' campaign in the lower European competition seems somewhat less important.
However, if one were to dig a little deeper, they would see that the success of this tie holds a bit more weight than it might appear.
It is clear that manager Andre Villas-Boas has taken Spurs' European endeavor very seriously this season, fielding relatively strong sides throughout the competition.
The first-year Portuguese manager has started each of his side's starting XI in, on average, just over seven Europa League matches this season, accounting for over half of the 11 such matches in which Spurs have played.
Villas-Boas has been very vocal about his feelings about the competition, likening its tough ties to Champions League auditions.
While Tottenham will not be able to make it into the Champions League without first qualifying through the Premier League, AVB's statement rings true. After all, if Spurs cannot hack playing twice a week, how will they cope in the Champions League?
More than just being a Champions League pretest, though, Thursday's match with Basel is an opportunity for Tottenham to regain their form.
Spurs have been in a funk over the past few weeks, playing well below par and getting just four points from their past four Premier League matches.
With no league match this weekend, the club can fully chase this match and use it to right the ship.
As so much is riding on Spurs' Champions League qualification, this would be invaluable.
Further, with Gareth Bale injured, the match serves as a chance for the rest of the club, and specifically the attacking force, to prove their worth.
Basel have proved to be an incredibly stingy side at home. The Swiss side have gone 835 minutes of play, a run that spans back to early October, without conceding a goal at home. In fact, Basel haven't conceded a goal at home in the entire time that manager Murat Yakin has been in charge.
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Thus, with Spurs in need of at least one away goal heading into Thursday, the Tottenham attack are faced with a monumental task.
If they are able to pull it off, the magnitude of the feat would set the stage for improvements next season even if Bale should decide to leave in the summer.
With their run in the Europa League hanging in the balance Thursday, Spurs will hope they can find a way past Basel and into the semifinals.
However, the Champions League preparation, effect on form and implication on the club's future makes the result go beyond just this competition.
For Tottenham, quite a lot stands to be gained or lost on Thursday.
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