Tottenham Hotspur must start taking the Europa League seriously

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Tottenham face Inter Milan on Thursday in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has selected Brad Friedel in the cup competitions, with Hugo Lloris preferred in the league, but if Villas-Boas and Spurs are serious about Europe’s second competition it is time to end the sentimentality and play their strongest line-up, starting with the keeper.

Brad Friedel is an experienced Premier League keeper. He has performed admirably for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham, and it is a testament to him and his character that as he approaches his 42nd birthday in May, he is still a top-flight keeper.

However, Lloris is Tottenham’s number one for a reason, and not only is he a better goalkeeper than Friedel but his style – quick off his line, quick distribution – suits the team’s tactics better than the American’s.

Villas-Boas is taking the Europa League seriously, something English clubs have not done recently. He said before the Panathinaikos game in September: "I aim to field the strongest team possible. We want to progress in this competition – the overall objective is to win it - and I respect it.

"For us to go on and eventually win the Champions League, I think we have to get used to playing in these situations, playing two games per week, both physically and mentally."

If, as the ex-Porto and Chelsea boss says, the priority is to win the competition than Lloris has to start at White Hart Lane against the Italians.

He is integral to the way Spurs play and has now forged an understanding with his defence. Friedel is an able deputy from the subs bench but that is where he should stay.


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