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Spurs, Ramos reunite in Europa League last 32

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19 Feb 2014 01:46:57

Spurs, Ramos reunite in Europa League last 32

Former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos will be reunited with the English Premier League side in the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday as Spurs travel to Ukraine for their first-leg tie against Dnipro.

Ramos guided Tottenham to the League Cup title in 2008, the last time the London club won any silverware, but was unceremoniously sacked the following season after less than a year in the job.

The Spaniard, a two-time UEFA Cup winner during his reign at Sevilla, acknowledges he faces an uphill climb if he's to repeat such success with Dnipro.

"Spurs are superior. They're clear favourites and there's a very good chance of us getting knocked out," Ramos told British daily The Guardian.

"One Spurs player may be our annual budget. You can prepare players and Spurs could still score four. Why? Because they're better.

"I can say: 'Look out, (Aaron) Lennon's quick on the outside.' They know but, voom-voom and he's gone. What are you going to do, chuck a rope round him?" lamented Ramos.

Spurs are competing for a top-four spot in the league, and despite having to travel to Norwich just three days after a 3,000-mile round trip to eastern Europe, manager Tim Sherwood insisted he would field a strong side against Dnipro.

"I love it (the Europa League). There are a lot of games coming up but we haven't got to worry about that.

"We are out of all the other competitions and we have got a big enough squad," said the Spurs boss, who could also welcome back Brazilian midfielder Sandro after two months out.

Swansea City resume their European adventure with the visit of Serie A heavyweights Napoli to south Wales.

Swansea, who sacked manager Michael Laudrup earlier this month, were knocked out of the FA Cup at Everton over the weekend but a glamorous fixture against one of Italy's leading clubs should make for a special evening for a club that almost tumbled out of the Football League just over a decade ago.

"It promises to be a great occasion at the Liberty, Napoli are having a good season in Italy and we're under no illusions about how tough it is going to be," said goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.

"But we'll be focussed, we'll prepare well and we want to get a good result ahead of the second leg."

Gonzalo Higuain's status is uncertain with the striker struggling with a back problem, while goalkeeper Pepe Reina is also an injury concern for Napoli boss Rafael Benitez, who steered Chelsea to the title last season.

Benitez is well acquainted with English opposition having also spent seven years at Liverpool and knows the Italians cannot afford to underestimate Swansea.

"It will be extremely difficult, as Swansea play good football and won't let us keep possession for long."

Italian league leaders Juventus were the most notable casualty from the Champions League group stage, but Antonio Conte insists they will still take Europe's second-tier club competition seriously.

"We're still disappointed to have gone out of the Champions League... but after two years in which Juve have grown immensely, we now have the aim of winning something in Europe," said Conte, who has set his side the objective of winning both Serie A and the Europa League.

Three-time winners Juve host Turkish side Trabzonspor -- unbeaten in this year's competition -- in the first leg in Turin, while last year's losing finalists Benfica travel to Greek outfit PAOK.

Two-time former champions Porto are at home to 1980 winners Eintracht Frankfurt, while 2009 victors Shakhtar Donetsk go to Viktoria Pilsen on Thursday with past champions Ajax, Sevilla and Valencia also in action.


AFP

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