Bale 'most effective as a striker', says Villas-Boas
April 04, 2013
He has the high praise of Zinedine Zidane ringing in his ears, and Gareth Bale is set to demonstrate why when he faces Basel.
Tottenham's wing wizard has smashed 27 goals so far this season, to attract the attention of the Real Madrid legend.
With Jermain Defoe injured and Emmanuel Adebayor out of form, Bale is set to again play at centre-forward in Thursday night's Europa League quarter-final first leg against the Swiss at White Hart Lane.
Villas-Boas said of the Welshman: “With his run of form, as a striker he is most effective.
"He is extremely comfortable playing as a striker. The more he plays there the more he is likely to be helping the team.”
The north Londoners have already responded to fears they would repeat last year’s end-of-season collapse by winning at Swansea on Saturday.
Bale’s super strike in that match was his 27th of the season and his 13th goal in his last 14 matches. He has also scored in two of his last three Europa League matches.
That weekend victory in Wales lifted Spurs above AVB’s former club Chelsea and re-established the confidence that has been carrying them through their impressive season.
Now, they are hoping to capitalise on home advantage ahead of what promises to be a tough trip to Switzerland next week.
Basel held Manchester United to a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford in the Champions League last season, then went on to produce two more huge upsets in the competition, both on their own turf.
First, they beat United, knocking Fergie's men out at the group stage in the process, then followed that up with victory over eventual finalists Bayern Munich in the first leg of a last-16 tie.
This season, they have thumped Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon 3-0 at home in the Europa League's group phase, but have yet to win a single away fixture in six attempts.
Still, Villas-Boas added: “Basel have European experience that we don’t have.
“They have had tremendous results against United, Sporting and Bayern - teams they have surprised.
“The quarter-finalists are all difficult teams to play because all eight teams believe they can win the trophy.
“The key to the game will be the motivation of the teams and the quality of the individuals.
"You have to admit we have superior players but their recent European experience in the Champions League makes them also one of the favourites.”
Spurs midfielder Scott Parker has revealed AVB made it clear to the squad at the start of the season that he wanted to regain the Europa League title, which he lifted with Porto in 2011 before taking the Chelsea job.
In stark contrast to fellow quarter-finalists Chelsea and Newcastle, both of whom want to win the trophy to salvage disappointing campaigns, the Europa League has always been high on the Tottenham manager’s agenda.
Parker said of the Portuguese, who replaced Harry Redknapp last summer: “He told us from the outset that we were going to try to win it. That we were going to go strong and it was a part of our season that we needed to look at.
“He set it out from the outset, that this was a road we were going down so we always knew it.
“And I think from the previous years or other times in competitions, you take a lesser squad or you rest certain players.
“But it’s never been the case this season. I think every player has been fully aware of how much the manager wants to do well in this tournament.”
“It’s a big competition, there’s big teams in it as well. If you’ve come away at the end of the season and you’ve won this competition you’ve done bloody well.
“You deserve a lot of credit, as a squad and as a team to achieve that, because it’s difficult, playing Thursdays and Sundays.
“There are big teams coming into it when the Champions League boys get knocked out. It’s a very, very tough competition.
Parker believes Tottenham are developing the winning mentality that turned Chelsea in Premier League heavyweights.
Spurs' victory at Swansea kept them on course for Champions League football next season and silenced the critics who believed the would suffer an end-of-season collapse similar to last year.
Parker was at Chelsea when the west Londoners lifted their first title for 50 years back in 2005.
The success spawned a period of dominance in which the Blues claimed another two leagues, four FA Cups, the League Cup and the Champions League.
Parker said: “When I was at Chelsea, we used to grind out results when we weren’t playing well. There’s a know-how. You just knew how to get a result. And that’s probably where we need to get to.
“It’s a habit. When you win games consistently it becomes a habit. Like losing becomes a habit.
“As you can probably see in the league in this present moment in time, there are teams where losing just becomes a habit, and it’s the same with winning.
“Winning becomes a habit. When you’re in a changing room - and confidence is key - and when you know you’re going out and you can grind out results and grind out results.
“That’s it. When I was at Chelsea we used to ground out results when we weren’t playing well. There’s a know-how. You just know how to get a result. And that’s probably where we need to get to.”