Sousa ready for improved Tottenham


Paulo Sousa has warned Fiorentina that Tottenham are a different prospect this season ahead of their Europa League last-32 first leg.

The Serie A side knocked Tottenham out at the same stage of last season's competition, a 2-0 victory at home in the second leg securing a 3-1 aggregate win.

After they both cruised through the group stages of the 2015-16 competition they were paired together again, however Sousa knows Tottenham are much stronger this time around.

Mauricio Pochettino has transformed his side from top-five contenders to Premier League title challengers this season - Spurs sitting level with fierce rivals Arsenal, two points adrift of leaders Leicester City with 12 games remaining.

"It's a different Tottenham from last year," the Portuguese head coach said at his news conference ahead of Thursday's opening leg in Florence.

"Also from the point of view of tournaments. Players have come into their squad who are giving more and they've managed to rotate throughout the season while maintaining very high levels, and that's important.

"They have a lot of quality, so even an injury doesn't make them weaker. They're more consistent and in fact they have more points.

"They're rotating even against the big teams and continuing to win. They haven't played against us so far though, and we have to go for it.

"We hope they aren't superior, but with our style we can have more possession."

He added: "They're a team who play an intense style throughout the match and they're used to these kind of games. Yes, you could call them favourites.

"But we maintain a 50 per cent chance, because of our attitude of playing to win. This is a game which is almost like the Champions League, high level, competitive, technical, tactical and physical."