Pochettino delivers Tottenham verdict ahead of crucial European showdown
By Matt Farr
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes their upcoming Europa League clash with KAA Gent will be just ‘like a final’.
Speaking to the Mirror after their triumph against Fulham in the FA Cup on Sunday, Pochettino admitted that he sees the upcoming European showdown as one of the biggest games of Tottenham’s season.
He also revealed that he had held clear-the-air talks with his squad following the previous defeat to Gent, but was delighted to see them deliver such an emphatic response against Fulham.
Pochettino said: “After Gent we had a few meetings (with the players) and the reaction was fantastic.
“I am very pleased. It was a great opportunity today to show that we are alive, and end that bad feeling after two defeats.
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“We have another ‘final’ at Wembley on Thursday and we’ll need to feel fresh, and to bring some confidence back. That was important today. Now we’ll try to keep that feeling for Thursday.”
The north London club were defeated 1-0 by the Belgian outfit in the first-leg of their Europa League round-of-32 tie last week, and face elimination from Europe for the second time this season.
Pochettino’s side had earlier failed to qualify from the Champions League group-stage, and dropped into Europe’s secondary competition.
The two sides meet again at Wembley on Thursday night, and despite naming a strong side against Fulham in the FA Cup on Sunday, Pochettino is not likely to hold anything back as he seeks to overturn their first-leg deficit.
An attacking-midfield masterclass from Christian Eriksen, and a superb hat-trick from Harry Kane saw Tottenham run out comfortable winners against Fulham, and book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Pochettino will be hoping for his side to recreate that performance in several days time, and maintain their concentration for a must-win game.
Prior to the Fulham victory, Tottenham had won just two of their last six games in all competitions.
In other Tottenham news, Dion Dublin has given his verdict on Kane following the FA Cup meeting.