Spurs will need to raise game for Sevilla

TOTTENHAM manager Martin Jol believes his side will have to play “better than ever” if they are to knock defending champions Sevilla out of the UEFA Cup.

Both Spurs and Sevilla are among the favourites to win this year’s tournament, with the Spanish side looking to become only the second club in history to retain the trophy after Real Madrid.

Spurs are in fine form heading into tonight’s quarter-final first leg at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium with five successive league wins, but Jol feels they will need to produce something special to get past Sevilla.

The Dutchman said yesterday: “We have to play well, we have to play better than ever.”

Sevilla are second in the Primera Liga, two points behind leaders Barcelona, and have lost just twice at home all season, once in the league and once in the UEFA Cup.

“I saw them against Barcelona (last year) and they were the better team. They played for the Super Cup against Barcelona and they beat them 3-0,” Jol added.

“They won the UEFA Cup, they are second in La Liga so what can I say?”

Spurs have not won any silverware since their 1999 League Cup win over Leicester and the UEFA Cup represents their last realistic chance of ending that run this season.

However, Jol insists he would not consider it a failure if they failed to get past Sevilla, a side he holds in high regard.

“If you have to play against the strongest team of course its not a failure,” he said.

As much as he respects Sevilla, Jol also believes his side have what it takes to make it through to the semi-finals.

Last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Reading lifted Spurs up to sixth in the Barclays Premiership standings, while they have won 11 of their 16 league games at home.

“Sevilla have a terrific home record, it is an away match but luckily enough this is a round with two matches and they still have to come to White Hart Lane, so we give ourselves a chance.”

Sevilla coach Juande Ramos has issued a rallying call to his club’s supporters, because he fears a combination of Sevilla’s success in last year’s competition, combined with Holy Week celebrations in the city, may have made some fans apathetic towards the match.

Sevilla had tried to get the game moved to a different date as it clashed with ‘Jueves Santo’ (Maundy Thursday), which is part of a major religious festival in the Andalusian city where huge crowds are due to attend.

But UEFA insisted the fixture must go ahead as initially planned, and Ramos is now calling on all their fans to unite behind the team so they can make the most of home advantage against an in-form Spurs side.

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