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Petkovic on guard amid Spurs downturn

Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic is not underestimating Tottenham ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash between the two sides.

Spurs sit second in Group J, two points behind Lazio, but have won only once so far in the Europa League and have lost four of their past five matches in all competitions.

Lazio welcome Andre Villas-Boas’ side to Rome’s Olympic Stadium knowing a win would guarantee their progress to the knockout stages, but Petkovic said his men are not getting ahead of themselves.

“We are mathematically forced to win tomorrow if we want to finish on top of our group and that’s what we would like to do, closing this first stage of the competition tomorrow,” Petkovic said.

“It won’t be our last chance, but we want to do it, we want to win the match.

“I need players who are mentally and physically at 100 percent, because against an opponent such as Tottenham we need to give all that we have, as we have done in the last matches. I need players at their best.

“I don’t think they’ve been overrated, they’ve proved their value after the first leg against us (a 0-0 draw in September).

“They’re going through a negative moment again now, they’re suffering a bit, but for that reason they could be even more dangerous, because they might want to come back with some good results and performances – they surely want to find their confidence back.

“The match is very important for them too if they want to continue the competition in Europe.”

Troubled former England star Paul Gascoigne will be in attendance at the match, 20 years after his move from White Hart Lane to Lazio.

Gascoigne has battled addiction problems in recent years and Petkovic said it would be nice to see him at the ground.

“Gascoigne is an important player who entered in the history of Lazio, everyone will be pleased (to see him here again),”he said.

“It will surely be another reason to come at the stadium to watch the game tomorrow.”

Wed 21 November, 2012
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