Are you listening Harry? Then we shall begin….
Tottenham have been drawn against the Galacticos of Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals, and despite Harry Redknapp’s men progressing as a team this season with the big name scalps of both Milan clubs, the North London club will go into the tie as underdogs. However no longer should Tottenham enter European ties with trepidation, as the players they have at their disposal have the ability and experience to on their day to beat anyone. There are a number of things that Spurs need to do to stand a chance of beating the Madrid club, which are as follows.
Shackle Cristiano Ronaldo (if he plays)
Both AC and Inter Milan are good sides, with excellent players but one thing that they lack that Madrid possess is a world beater. Enter Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese attacker has been in ominous form, and if Tottenham give the ex-Manchester United player too much time or space Ronaldo has the ability to beat them single-handedly. Yes Higuain, Kaka, Ozil etc pose Tottenham threats, but Ronaldo is a match winner. If Milan had Ronaldo in their team that drew 0-0 with Spurs in the last round, the result may be have been different. Ronaldo has an incision and clinicalness that Tottenham need to counteract, with Brazilian midfielder Sandro the man for the job. Man of the match in the second leg against Milan, Sandro frustrated countrymen Pato and Robinho by intercepting passes, winning challenges and generally being a nuisance. In the Madrid tie however, especially at the Bernabeu, Spurs should use Sandro as a man marker on Ronaldo, a tough task for the 21 year old, but he is the best option for the job as he is more combative than Jenas and less reckless than Palacios.
Don’t depend solely on Peter Crouch’s aerial ability
Peter Crouch has had an excellent European campaign and scored valuable goals for the team, with his stature and aerial ability posing a threat to defences who have rarely encountered anyone with his size. Crouch’s aerial threat is an asset for the Tottenham attack and he will cause the Madrid centre backs problems in air, but this should not be Spurs main plan of attack. Harry Redknapp’s men were guilty of not utilising the ability of their more gifted players in the second leg against Milan, and instead resorted to hitting the ball long to Crouch and looking to get players into positions to capitalise on the England man’s knock downs. This won’t be enough to beat Madrid. Tottenham have been applauded for their ability to counter attack and pass the ball; they must be brave and take on Madrid on the deck.
Get Luka Modric on the ball
Gareth Bale has taken much of the acclaim for Tottenham’s attacking play, and has punished defences both in Europe and domestically with his pace and individual skill, whilst Rafael van deer Vaart has scored some important goals and is the big name player in the Spurs ranks. However, the man behind Tottenham’s creativity and the real driving force of their attack is Luka Modric. The diminutive Croatian has been on sparkling form and his guile and ability on the ball is second to none; Tottenham must get the ball to Modric in space, which will allow him to pick a precision pass and utilise Spurs wingers and forwards. Modric will not find it easy finding space as Kheidra and Alonso will look to get close to him, but if the midfield man can get the ball down and pass it, he has the ability to create chances for Tottenham.
Don’t get incited by Mourinho’s mindgames
Seasoned campaigner Jose Mourinho has started making statements in the media before the game speaking of his side’s quality and not confirming whether specific players will be fit; both Champions League newcomer Harry Redknapp and his team must put this out of their heads and keep their cool. The Special One is a bit of a performer and his acts of self belief and confidence are all a ploy to try to ruffle his opponents feathers and impact the attitudes of the opposing team going into the game. Tottenham should ignore any such comments, and instead of trying to prove him wrong they need to win the tie for themselves and the White Hart Lane faithful. Tottenham need to believe they can win to actually go on and be the victors; any statements from Mourinho need to be discarded and must not diminish Spurs players belief that they can win the tie.
Play the game at pace
Tottenham are blessed with players who have pace to burn with the afore mentioned Bale (if he features) complemented on the other flank by flyer Aaron Lennon. The England winger’s speed frightened Milan’s ageing defence and resulted in the creation of Crouch’s goal at the San Siro, and although Real will have more mobile players than the Rossoneri at the back, they will not enjoy having to deal with either player with the ball at their feet. Tottenham inevitably will face periods of time without the ball; the key is that when they do regain possession that they counter attack with pace and try to use the mobility of their attackers against the Spanish side.
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