Lloris: Spurs can claim EL glory
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris sees no reason why Tottenham cannot overcome Inter Milan and go on to win the Europa League.
Mousa Dembele's 89th-minute strike in Lyon on Thursday night set up a mouth-watering last-16 clash with the Italian giants, against whom Tottenham locked horns in two fantastic games two seasons ago.
Gareth Bale grabbed Europe's attention with two breathtaking displays in the Champions League Group A ties, scoring a hat-trick in the San Siro as Spurs fell to a valiant 4-3 defeat before embarrassing Maicon at White Hart Lane as the home side won 3-1.
It is fair to say that the Inter team Spurs faced two seasons ago is much stronger than their current XI.
Back then Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder and Lucio guided the club to second in Serie A. Now they sit fifth in the league, their captain Javier Zanetti turns 40 this summer and their leading marksman is 33-year-old Diego Milito, who has found the net just nine times in the league this term.
"We have players to progress in this competition," Lloris said.
"Inter Milan is a great team with a great history in European competition. It will be a difficult game but we have the ambition to continue and win this trophy.
"Lyon are a great team, that was a big game for us and we got through so I think we can also do it against Inter."
While fans will be relishing the prospect of returning to the San Siro, where they also beat AC Milan in the Champions League two years ago, Lloris thinks it is vital that Spurs keep their focus on achieving their most important objective - Champions League qualification.
Andre Villas-Boas' side have not lost a Barclays Premier League game since December 9 when they conceded two late goals at Everton.
Given that their next seven opponents include Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton, Lloris knows maintaining their form is vital.
"We are in good form at the moment and we have to continue," the France skipper said. "Of course we have the ambition to continue in the two competitions.
"I think the best thing will be to be in the next Champions League so we have to finish in the top four.
"We are in a good situation now so we have to continue to win our games in what is a very important few weeks."
Lloris is expected to return in goal at West Ham on Monday.
The battle between Lloris and Brad Friedel for the number one jersey could have caused friction between the two, but Friedel has grown to like his French team-mate, who signed from Lyon last summer.
"Hugo is a very nice man," Friedel said. "He is very talented goalkeeper. He is young as well, so he has many, many good years ahead of him.
"The France national team is lucky to have him. He is very professional and very diligent. I've also spoken to a few of the French players who play with him at national level and they can't say a bad word about him. Neither can I."
That said, Friedel is crossing his fingers that Villas-Boas continues with his policy of choosing him for Europa League matches.
"I hope I will play. I played at the San Siro many moons ago (for the United States against Italy in 2002)," the 41-year-old said.
"We will find out on March 6 (the day before the first leg at White Hart Lane)."