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Europa League Qual Play-Offs Round

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AVB: Big opportunity for Spurs

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas believes his team have a great opportunity to close in on the knockout stages of the Europa League with victory over Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova.

Last Updated: 24/10/13 at 22:25 Post Comment

Andre Villas-Boas: Tottenham boss knows his side are close to qualification

Andre Villas-Boas: Tottenham boss knows his side are close to qualification

A win for the north London club on Thursday would make it three successes in as many games in Group K and open a clear lead at the top of the table.

And Spurs' progress to the next phase would be assured if Anzhi Makhachkala draw with Tromso in the night's other game.

The Tottenham manager told the club's website: "We have a big opportunity to get to nine points and maybe qualify at such an early stage.

"That motivation is key for us and is a big opportunity."

As for their opponents, Sheriff have secured the Moldovan title 11 times in 13 years and Villas-Boas added: "The conditions here are great.

"They are influenced by the Brazilians they have: Six Brazilians, very creative players and particularly in midfield.

"They are a counter attacking team which break quickly so we have to be aware.

"But we also must keep to our own principles and stay solid in defence."

Experience

Spurs midfielder Lewis Holtby is enjoying Spurs' Europa League trips - even if he thought tonight's opponents Sheriff Tiraspol were a club in Northern Ireland, not Eastern Europe.

The clash at the Moldovan champions is one of several tough away days faced by Villas-Boas' side in this year's competition, although one midfielder Holtby thought was a little closer to home.

"I had never heard of Sheriff before," the Germany international said. "I thought they were based in Northern Ireland.

"But coming to places like this is always an experience, especially for young players.

"You learn a lot coming to these types of countries and playing these types of teams.

"It is important to take these kind of atmospheres into your game. You learn a lot of things. So from that point of view it's nice to have a group like this."

Few can blame Holtby for not knowing much about Sheriff. Dominant in the Moldovan top flight, they hail from the capital of Transnistria - a self-announced breakaway state unrecognised by an sovereign nation.

"I only heard of it 20 minutes before we arrived," said Holtby, who admitted sleeping across the border.

"I got told it was a country within Moldova. That's a new one on me but a good experience to take with me and it has improved my geography.

"I am very pleased to be here. I can tell my grandchildren that I played in a part of Moldova that isn't Moldova."

The Stadionul Sheriff is sold out for Thursday evening's clash and more than 200 Tottenham fans are expected at the Group K clash.

"We have to be ready for them because it is going to be their cup final," Holtby added.

"Every opponent we face in the Europa League sees us as the bigger side.

"We are Tottenham Hotspur, we are a fantastic club, we have got quality players throughout the squad, so everybody is buzzing when they play against us.

"It makes us proud to be in that position. But we are only concerned with trying to get our win, continuing our 100 per cent points tally and qualifying from the group as quickly as possible."

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