Poch unfazed by fixture congestion


Poch unfazed by fixture congestion

Tottenham face the unenviable task of playing six vital matches over the next 17 days, but Mauricio Pochettino is confident they have the wherewithal to succeed.

The Argentinian’s start to life at White Hart Lane was not straightforward, but the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea on March 1 offers him the opportunity to end his first season at the helm with silverware.

Spurs have emerged as genuine top-four contenders during that period and, furthermore, will resume a two-pronged trophy hunt on Thursday, when Fiorentina visit for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

The return fixture comes just three days before the Wembley showdown against Chelsea, while the north Londoners also face Premier League matches against West Ham, Swansea and QPR in what is a frantic 17 days for the club.

“This is our 42nd official game tomorrow in seven months,” Pochettino said ahead of Fiorentina’ visit.

“It’s important to manage the squad and always analyse after the games each case and each player. And after to be clever and select the best player to play in each game.

“For me, I prefer to play every three days because it’s a good sign we are in all competitions.

“We have a strong squad for playing in the Europa League, Premier League and the final of Capital One Cup against Chelsea. I am happy.

“There is not a special worry about that. All the squad are fit and we are in a very good way.”

Spurs are approaching every match “like a final” now, Pochettino says, and the importance of a positive first-leg result against Fiorentina is clear.

Like Spurs, Vincenzo Montella’s side are pushing for Champions League qualification in the league and are amongst the contenders for the Europa League.

They arrive in north London with a number of players well-versed with English football, varying from Micah Richards to Mohamed Salah, but Pochettino does not believe that experience will hinder Spurs’ chances.

In addition, the Tottenham head coach does not believe the exit of Fiorentina’s star turn Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea during the winter transfer window will prove much of a helping hand to his team.

“I believe that Cuadrado is an unbelievable player, but it is true that Fiorentina have a strong squad, a lot of good players,” he said.

“Yes, we watch a lot of games from Fiorentina in the last period and it is a very, very good team.

“It is true that Cuadrado is a very, very, very good player, but in the end I think Fiorentina have a lot of players that can replace him and do the same job.”

That quality means the bookmakers are struggling to guess who will progress from the tie, with Pochettino well aware of how tough these games will be.

“I agree that it’s 50/50 and I think it’s a tough game,” he added.

“I think we share the same philosophy, Tottenham and Fiorentina.

“Maybe we play in different ways, the system is different. Fiorentina play one, five or three and use different systems during different games, but we play 4-2-3-1. But a lot of the philosophy, yes.”

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