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Thursday, September 20, 2012
Lazio won't ring changes for Europa clash

Adam Digby, Italy Correspondent

Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic has said he has no intention of rotating his squad for their Europa League matches and vowed that the club will treat their European commitments seriously.

Petkovic's side take on Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Thursday night, and the coach - whose side have won all three of their domestic games so far - believes the experience of playing in Europe can only improve his players.

Italy's European coefficient rating has been hit by clubs' apathy towards the Europa League in recent seasons, but Petkovic said: "For me, it is important to play at an international level because it can help the team to grow by facing a different reality.

"The differences in football can only be positive and seen as a learning experience. Squad rotation? I don't think it's necessary in the first few games. For the moment, we will continue with a squad that is doing well. I wouldn't like to ruin anything by sending negative signals."

Spurs have stuttered under new coach Andre Villas-Boas, but picked up their first league win of the season at Reading on Sunday. Petkovic said: "Tottenham do not just have strength down the flanks, but also through the middle, where they are very physical.

"They're dangerous on set plays. Playing wide is their main strength, but my players know that and will behave accordingly.

"We will respect the opponents but try to take the initiative, so we'll neutralise Tottenham's style of football by imposing our own. I think not how we can stop Gareth Bale but how we can make life difficult for him.

"How far will we go? I don't look too far ahead and do not like making predictions. Spurs will try to win this competition, whereas we will simply focus on winning against them."

Paul Gascoigne, who represented both clubs, will not be at the game as had been intended, and the Lazio coach said: "I knew Gazza was an idol for the fans, and it's a shame to see the difficulties he is having at the moment. I hope he can manage to recover with willpower, and we invite him to the second leg in Rome."




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