AC Milan vs. Tottenham Hotspur.
Harry Redknapp has claimed that Spurs will stick to their attacking principles, but can we really play any other way and hope to win the tie?
For me the reality is that Spurs are not a side that is capable of sitting back and absorbing pressure for 90 or perhaps 180 minutes, therefore our best and perhaps only form of defence is to take the game to Milan and hope we score more that they do, which will if nothing else make for an exciting pair of games, just as long as we remain in contention after tonight.
Despite being without Bale and probably Modric, Spurs will almost certainly look to take the game to Milan despite possibly having to start with two strong and defensive minded midfielders in Palacios and Sandro, but you feel that the other three midfielders will be given a more free reign should Modric not start.
Tactically, I wonder if Harry will look to play a formation nearer to a 4-2-3-1, with maybe Lennon and even the stronger defensive full back Corluka being players to miss our, as Harry may gamble and see Alan Hutton being a better attacking option than pushing one of the DCM`s forward and out of their comfort zone.
Dropping Corluka for the weaker defensive option of Hutton would be seen as a huge gamble, but if we choose to play a tighter and more narrow midfield the width has to come from somewhere and could it be from the full backs?
That could also mean a bench place for Aaron Lennon, as I feel that Harry would prefer to use Pienaar and Kranjcar with Van der Vaart playing a roaming role behind a lone striker, which if fit, I assume would be Crouch, be he remains a doubt for tonight.
Of course this could be pure speculation on my part and we could just as easily see a more usual 4-4-1-1 with Corluka at full back and Pienaar or Kranjcar on the left and Lennon on the right, but could Harry be playing cute and actually feels that Milan expect us to play a naive attacking style and by our playing differently we could catch them cold. I wouldn`t put it past him.
The last time we visited this stadium against Inter this season, I felt we showed far too much respect and perhaps were overawed by the occasion and allowed Inter to dominate us and at 4-0 at half time with only ten men, it looked like our CL dream could have been over, but I don`t expect Spurs to lack self belief tonight, but whether they have the quality to get a result remains to be seen.
Milan have their own injury problems, particularly in midfield, with Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini injured, whilst new signings, Antonio Cassano, Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson are all cup tied. Attack will be where Spurs will fear them most, with Robinho and Pato supporting the rejuvenated Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a three man attack, which will potentially rip us apart, but is this a night to see William Gallas perform in the way he did against Arsenal and be our hero once more?
Any positive result tonight will be seen as a great one, even if that is one that has us a goal behind for the second leg. A 2-1 deficit would not be the end of the world, but you feel that anything over a two goal lead could prove hard for Spurs to recover. This is a game I feel Tottenham can win, but we probably have to keep things tight from the start an perhaps hope the aging Milan legs will tire after the hour mark and we take control.
I have to confess I am absolutely clueless as to what tonight`s result will be. Spurs may well have the energy and quality to shock Milam with a high tempo game, but equally they could freeze and be overrun as they were against Inter in the first half, but aside from the three strikers (and what strikers) is there really much to worry about tonight? I have a feeling that harry will hope to strangle their supply and hope to counter at pace and perhaps we really can pull off a wonderful result...