Tottenham Hotspur were having a truly great season until last week.
Despite suffering a rather shock defeat to Leicester City at White Hart Lane in the fourth round of the FA Cup in January, Spurs were very much on course for a successful 2014-15 campaign.
However, things are threatening to go off the rails at the moment.
Winning against Fiorentina in the Europa League round of 32 was never going to be easy, but Tottenham should have still had enough to get the better of the Serie A outfit.
However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side played out a 1-1 draw with the Italian club in the first leg of the tie at White Hart Lane in North London last week, and then went down 2-0 in the second leg in Florence on Thursday.
Winning the Europa League would have given Spurs a chance to feature in next season’s Champions League campaign, and that is why the competition was so important.
True, Tottenham are very much in the running for a top-four finish in the Premier League this term, but Arsenal, Manchester United, Southampton and Liverpool are also in the hunt.
It is going to be very tough for Spurs to compete against them. It would not have been easy in the Europa League, but in knockout games they would have faced teams inferior to the likes of Arsenal and United.
On Sunday, Spurs take on Chelsea in the final of the League Cup at London’s Wembley Stadium. It is a big game and winning will be huge for Tottenham, but losing could be devastating.
If Tottenham lose to their London rivals, then it could have a negative impact on the players, who will then have to focus just on the Premier League.
Tottenham last won a major trophy in 2008, and the fans will certainly want the players to go all out and defeat Chelsea.
However, winning the League Cup is not going to do much in terms of Champions League qualification, winning the Europa League would have.
While focusing on the league is going to make it more straightforward in terms of what Spurs need to do, had they had the option of the Europa League, then they could be ‘less stressed’ and would have had a ‘back-up plan’.
Losing the League Cup could be a huge blow from which the Tottenham players may take time to recover. And Spurs cannot afford that.
Spurs have some big Premier League games coming up in the next few weeks, including those against Swansea City, Manchester United and Newcastle United.
With Arsenal and Liverpool in brilliant form, Mauricio Pochettini’s side cannot afford to slip up. A single defeat could eventually prove to be the difference at the end of the season.
All the Champions League eggs are in one basket now for Tottenham. And that is not ideal when one considers the luxury they had just 10 days ago.