Tottenham have the Capital One Cup final looming large but that does not mean Mauricio Pochettino will be treating the Fiorentina match lightly, describing the Europa League tie as merely their “first final”.
The next few days have the potential to decide whether the former Argentina defender’s first season at the White Hart Lane helm is deemed a success or failure.
Sunday offers the mouth-watering prospect of silverware in the Capital One Cup final, when victory against Chelsea would end a seven-year wait for a trophy.
Before the Wembley showdown, though, comes another important match as Spurs take on Serie A high-fliers Fiorentina for a place in the Europa League last-16.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg means the north Londoners face a tough challenge at the Stadio Artemio Franchi – a match which has Pochettino’s full attention, despite the little matter of Sunday.
“The problem is the decision that you take is always about the result that you get,” the Spurs boss said when asked about rotating his side in Florence.
“If tomorrow you make the rotation and after on Sunday you win, you are a genius.
“Sunday you may rest some players and play others and win against Chelsea in final – you’re a genius.
“But if you lose tomorrow and lost in the final, you are a very bad manager, a very bad coach. I think it’s not fair.
“The most important thing is to be clear, analyse and to identify that tomorrow is our first final.
“We need to decide the team after we analyse every case and every player.
“After, the players we play tomorrow is because they are in full recovery and fully fit.
“But if you take one decision or another decision, after it’s about result. If you take a positive result, it’s the same. I’m the same manager, the same coach.
“But when you take a decision sometimes you are right or wrong, but this is all football.
“We take the decision to try to win tomorrow, for trying to play better than Fiorentina and after, analyse the game and try to put the best team out for the final on Sunday.”
Spurs have brought a full-strength side to Tuscany, although it does not include Emmanuel Adebayor, Etienne Capoue or captain Younes Kaboul.
They have remained in London ahead of the League Cup final, for which Pochettino hopes the preparation will be aided by staying on in Florence on Thursday night.
Spurs normally fly straight back after Europa League games, but have taken the decision to remain in Italy until Friday afternoon.
“It is a very busy period,” Pochettino said. “It is difficult to recover the players, so we decided to stay here in Florence after the game.
“We will train here before flying back to London. I think it is very important to sleep well after the game, to eat well, to recover.
“On Sunday is another final so for that we need to provide our players with all the best things to arrive fresh on Sunday.”
Pochettino has already decided his line-up for Thursday’s match but has yet to make a decision on who will start at Wembley, where the strength in depth at his disposal will lead to some tough decisions.
“I have a clear idea about tomorrow – you know me, I never tell you before the games the names,” he said.
“Yes, I have a good idea for tomorrow. Always for us the most important game is tomorrow. We need to be focused on the Fiorentina game.”
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