'We cannot miss this opportunity' - Mauricio previews KAA Gent
23 February 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Not that it was needed, but Mauricio Pochettino has extra motivation for tonight’s Europa League Round of 32 second leg against KAA Gent at Wembley.
The manager understood just how much it meant for the Belgian side to beat us 1-0 in last week’s first leg at the Ghelamco Arena, as he explained.
“I still feel bad,” he said. “For them, it was a big, big victory. I listened to how they were after the game and it was a big party in the dressing room. It was a big impact for us and now we need to use that to try to win and go to the next round.”
We turned the page on that disappointment with an impressive victory at Fulham in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Below: Mauricio previews KAA Gent with Spurs TV
“How good is it when you win games?” reasoned Mauricio. “It’s a better spirit, a better atmosphere and a better mood and that’s always important when you prepare for a final, like we will play against Gent.
“The first leg was tough for us, we didn’t play well and we all felt that pain after the game. Now, in front of our supporters at Wembley, we need to show our quality, our aggression and show from the first moment that we want to go into the next round and deserve to be there.”
How do you approach this second leg tactically with us 1-0 down from the first leg?
Mauricio: “It’s important to have patience and always be clear you’re only 1-0 down. That balance is key. We’ve prepared in a good way and now it’s time to play.”
We knew before the first leg about KAA Gent’s strength at home, will they be different playing away?
Mauricio: “It’s not about Gent, as I say, it’s always about us. It’s about our performance, our belief and trying to show that we’re better than our opponent. I hope it will be a completely different game to the first leg, that we perform well, try to score goals and win the game.”
Below: Mauricio speaks to the media on Wednesday
Wembley is sold out again - how about that?
Mauricio: “That’s fantastic news for us. It shows how big our Club is. We have in front of us a big opportunity to give a good performance and a present to say ‘thank-you’ to our supporters for their effort and we cannot miss that opportunity. We need to give our best. The players are ready and aware of that. We’ll give our best to try to get into the next round.”
Finally, we’ve had a busy run of games in different competitions - Liverpool, KAA Gent, Fulham, KAA Gent again and then Stoke back in the Premier League on Sunday - how do you balance that all out within the squad?
Mauricio: “We work a lot of try to assess every player and provide the best players to try to win the games. It’s true it’s a tough period but that is our job, our passion and we enjoy working this way. It’s tough, there are many people involved, we have an excellent staff and they are key for the recovery of the players, to assess the players, to provide them with the tools to try to win games in all areas. I congratulate them all.”