Tottenham assistant manager Cristian Stellini said it would be a “completely different world” without Antonio Conte on the sidelines against Marseille, but urged players and staff to “fill the void” to avoid Champions League exit.
Spurs face a crucial Group D tie in the south of France needing a point to secure progress to the last 16.
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However, all four teams could qualify depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s games, with Sporting Lisbon hosting Eintracht Frankfurt at the same time.
Conte will not be in the dugout as he serves a one-match ban after being sent off in last week’s 1-1 draw with Frankfurt and cannot communicate directly with his players during the game.
He will not talk about the squad before the game, but according to Stellini, contrary to normal planning, Conte will travel to the Stade Vélodrome with the players and sit with his brother Gianluca, also a member of the backstage squad at Tottenham, to watch the game.
“The presence of a coach like Conte, both before the match and the week before and during the match, is simply essential,” Stellini said at a press conference on Monday, which Conte refused to attend due to his ban.
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“Especially a tough match like this, where it’s going to be intense until the final whistle. It is a difficult change, but we must prepare together before the game. It’s a completely different world because normally the days before the match Antonio will do all his preparation himself, alone.
“But now we have to do it all together, so it changes everything. You have to work with the strategy and it can get complex.
“He will work with us until we get here. Then we have to stop the communication and he will stay close to Gianluca, but we prepare the game and the strategies well.
“Our strategies are clear in every game and we have to play our game as well as possible. Everyone has to do something more to close the gap.”
Spurs will be without injured trio Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Cristian Romero and have warned against extending a run of conceding the first goal in eight of their last 11 games given what is at stake and a likely hostile atmosphere.
“In the last period, we have worked a lot on changing this routine [of conceding first]”, added Stellini. “It happened a lot in the last half where we conceded first and were slow in the first half. It’s normal in this period that we don’t have the energy to play 90 minutes with more intensity, but it happens more in the first half.
“That’s a key message we’ve sent out to players and we’re working on that aspect to create a perfect solution to get you started. It will be difficult for 90 minutes and we need to start well. We have been working for the last two weeks to improve this aspect.”