Angered by the way Tottenham Hotspur FC were "outfought" during a 4-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea FC last weekend, Tim Sherwood views the round of 16 opener against SL Benfica as an ideal opportunity for his players to atone: "We know they're going to have a lot of threats, but we respect that and we're relishing the challenge."
Tottenham had Younès Kaboul sent off as they conceded four goals in 33 second-half minutes at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, a performance which drew a withering assessment from the club's former midfielder. Yet, as hurtful as the display was, Sherwood knows his charges cannot afford to dwell on the setback ahead of the UEFA Europa League visit of the Eagles and Sunday's north London derby with Arsenal FC.
"Obviously they are all very down about the result, like all of us were, but that's the nature of this game and you have to bounce back," said manager Sherwood. "We're on to the next one – they come thick and fast – and a massive game against Benfica, one of the giants of European football."
Tottenham have won all five of their European home games this term, scoring 15 goals in the process. The Portuguese Liga leaders, though, represent a step up in class. "We know how difficult it's going to be – this team got ten points and dropped out of the group stage of the Champions League," explained Sherwood. "They're a top side and we appreciate that."
Regarding the Chelsea match, Sherwood said: "Anyone can play bad, get outplayed, we know that – that's football, that's the nature of it – but what you cannot do is get outfought and out-desired and I do not want to see that happening again. I want to see the same desire and attitude from minute one to minute 95 and I won't tolerate any less. The players know that now."
In contrast to Spurs' recent wobbles, Benfica's progress has been serene of late. Jorge Jesus's side are seven points clear atop the Portuguese Liga and unbeaten since a 1-0 UEFA Champions League defeat at Olympiacos FC on 5 November, winning 21 of 23 fixtures in all competitions in that time.
"Benfica have a lot of responsibility when it comes to this kind of match," said Jesus. "Both teams will play [to win] and we have to be responsible. I don't know what the Tottenham manager has said to his players. Success is always important. Benfica are a very significant club and have played in many important games in Europe."
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