The defining week facing Jose Mourinho at Tottenham as Europa League fate is sealed


Tottenham Hotspur have discovered their Europa League round of 16 opponents.

After comfortably dispatching Wolfsberger AC 8-1 on aggregate at the round of 32 stage, Spurs are a positive result against Dinamo Zagreb away from reaching the quarter-final.

Spurs are due to travel to Zagreb for the first leg before welcoming them for the second. However, given the ongoing and differing COVID restrictions across Europe, those venues are subject to change.

And the dates that the Europa League round of 16 ties are scheduled to take place make for interesting reading for Tottenham fans as well as head coach Jose Mourinho.

The first-leg will be played on March 11, with the return meeting pencilled in for March 18.

One look at Spurs’ fixture schedule and the north London derby against Arsenal that is sandwiched between the round of 16 Europa League ties immediately jumps out.

The Lilywhites emerged victorious in the reverse fixture earlier in the season thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. At that stage, Mourinho’s side were at the top of the Premier League table and a top-four finish seemed likely.

However, a run of three Premier League wins since the beginning of December has seen Spurs slide down the table to ninth ahead of this weekend’s clash with Burnley and this places even greater emphasis on winning the Europa League.

Of course, the added bonus of lifting the trophy is a direct route to the Champions League group phase.

But Mourinho can’t afford to put all of his eggs into the Europa League basket just yet as his side still have a decent chance of finishing in the top-four, provided they find some consistency.

Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho. (Image: Julian Finney/Getty Images).

Currently nine points off West Ham United – who beat them last weekend – crucially Spurs have a game in hand on their London rivals whose top-four credentials will be examined in the coming weeks.

The Hammers’ next two games are against Manchester City and Leeds United, meanwhile, it’s Burnley and Fulham next up for Spurs before their Europa League round of 16 first-leg tie.

There’s every chance that Tottenham will head to the Emirates Stadium with a top-four finish very much an achievable target.

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This makes the seven days from March 11 to March 18 a defining week for Spurs and Mourinho.

Not only must he navigate a way past Dinamo Zagreb and reach the Europa League quarter-final, but a positive result against Arsenal is required just to keep the top-four plate spinning.





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