UEFA Europa League Preview: Tottenham v Benfica
By Football News
Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood expects a response when his side host Benfica in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 tie.
Sherwood was cutting in his assessment of his players after they were taken apart by Chelsea in Saturday's 4-0 Premier League thumping.
Individual errors directly contributed to all four of the home side's goals and, following the dismal showing at Stamford Bridge, Sherwood accused his players of lacking "character".
Tottenham will at least have the chance to consign that result to history when they return to European action on Thursday, and Sherwood has demanded that his squad make amends.
"The fans were magnificent (on Saturday) and the lads owe it to them and owe it to themselves (to respond)," he told the club's official website.
"They have to take it on the chin, as we all have."
Defeat against Chelsea was a blow to Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season, with Sherwood's men now four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City having played three games more.
The focus of their campaign increasingly now looks to be on an extended run in the Europa League, but they will have their work cut out against a Benfica side who reached last year's final, before being beaten 2-1 by Chelsea thanks to Branislav Ivanovic's stoppage-time header.
Sherwood can take heart from Tottenham's strong home record in the competition - they have won their last five European matches at White Hart Lane, triumphing in nine and drawing two of their past 11 since a 2-1 reverse at the hands of PAOK in the group stages back in 2011.
They produced a stirring comeback in the last round, coming from 2-0 down in the tie to eventually overcome Dnipro 3-2 thanks to a brace from Emmanuel Adebayor and a Christian Eriksen strike.
They next host a Benfica side who exited the Champions League due to an inferior head-to-head record with Olympiacos, but Jorge Jesus' men put that setback behind them with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over PAOK in the round of 32.
Lima scored twice over the course of the tie, and Tottenham will be wary of the threat posed by both him and Rodrigo, who have 24 goals between them in all competitions this season.
Oscar Cardozo, who has nine goals to his name despite missing a large chunk of the season with a back injury, is believed to be in the frame to play a part and will also pose a danger.
The Primeira Liga leaders come into the game on an incredible run of form, having won 21 and drawn two of their previous 23 matches in all competitions. They have not conceded for eight games, since a 1-1 draw with Gil Vicente on February 1.
Central defender Michael Dawson is a doubt for Tottenham after being withdrawn on Saturday with a hamstring injury, while for Benfica, Jardel has not played since a nasty clash of heads with team-mate Enzo Perez against Vitoria Guimaraes last month.