Tottenham Hotspur are among the favourites for the Europa League as they embark on their seventh UEFA group stage campaign on Thursday against Norwegian side Tromso at White Hart Lane.
Forty eight teams from 27 countries – breaking the record of 25 set last season – go into the Europa League group stage for a competition that will culminate in Turin in May.
Tottenham are one of five sides to have won the UEFA Cup, which turned into the Europa League from the 2009–2010 season. Spurs, UEFA Cup winners in 1972 and 1984, are joined by Valencia (2004), Eintracht Frankfurt (1980), PSV Eindhoven (1978) and Sevilla (2006 and 2007) as previous winners.
Unlike many Premier League managers, Andre Villas–Boas (in picture), who won the Europa League with Porto in 2011, has always taken the competition seriously and, after last season’s quarter-final exit to Basel, Tottenham are determined to go further.
Tromso, competing in the group stages of the competition for the first time, are the first challenge for Spurs in Group K, which also features Sheriff and Russia’s Anji Makhachkala, who meet in Moldova.
The Premier League’s other representative, Swansea, make their debut in the competition, with a visit to Valencia in Group A. England have a third hope in Wigan Athletic, who were relegated last season but enter as FA Cup winners.DPA