A look ahead to Spurs vs AC Milan

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There’s been so much written about this game already. It seems to have captured the imagination around the world, Newsnow has featured articles from as far apart as Utah, Jakarta and Bangalore.

Most of the comments have been based around our gung-ho approach, the fitness of Gareth Bale and how no-one from Berlusconi down to the cappuccino lady has heard of us apart from clogger Flamini and the Kevin formerly known as Boateng. Or they wouldn’t have heard of us if it wasn’t for the impact Bale has made on the competition this season. His hat-trick in the San Siro and embarrassment of Maicon at WHL mean that the last thing Milan would’ve wanted was to hear that he was not only back at the weekend after his six week layoff but also playing like he’d never been away. His first touch on Sunday led to a run at pace down the right flank that made you remember what it’s like to feel the sun on your face after a long cold winter. Ah yes, life can be sweet.

On Sunday everything was mostly narrow and muddy and bitty with only Modric rising out of the mud occasionally to provide a bit of elegance and poise. Changes will clearly be made for this game and the addition of Bale to the starting lineup could be one of up to six alterations. As well as the Welshman, Van der Vaart, Crouch, Palacios, Lennon and Corluka could all come in.

Whilst we’ve spent the last fortnight squeezing one point out of visits to Wolves and Blackpool our principal fourth place rivals have been either turning over the Premier League leaders or squeaking lucky wins over Wigan. It’s too early to think of giving up but recent results and changes in form and fortune do lend some weight to the argument that the best chance we have of qualifying for the CL again next year is to end up running round Wembley with the big pot itself in May. Hm.

Milan’s head coach and players have been talking up their chances of winning the game but their logic seems to be mostly based around the two clubs relative perceived size rather than any proper reasoning. Allegri is quoted as saying “We lost the first leg in a pretty strange game. The second leg will be completely different though. We are feeling great both mentally and physically”. Sounds like a classic case of denial to me. His definition of ‘a pretty strange game’ is to be outplayed and beaten by a better team and his statement that Milan are ‘feeling great both mentally and physically’ seems at odds with other statements indicating that they’re cacking themselves at the thought of facing Bale plus they have a midfield that has been completely decimated by injury and are struggling elsewhere in the side too.

We have had more than our fair share of players sidelined but the prospect of this game seems to have had them rising from their death beds in a bid to take part, the opposite of what’s happening in Milan.

It’s pretty safe to assume that Harry is going to attempt to repeat the tactics of the first leg in the San Siro. We’ll play with a high tempo and service to Crouch will be direct and quick. This time though we’ll hopefully have the distraction of Bale to add to the pot. Van der Vaart was superb in the first half in Italy, running the show. His apparent inability to remain fit for more than an hour at a time means that his is again likely to be a cameo appearance, it should be a high quality one though.

A good start is vital of course. If we can get them on the back foot from the off, the way we did with Inter then there’s every chance that heads will drop and doubts will set in. They may well feel that roughhouse tactics as per the second half of the first leg are their best chance in which case the Belgian officials will have their work cut out. The Spurs website is calling for a lilywhite night from the crowd; there is though no need to appeal for support. It’s a big night that everyone’s looking forward to and every chance that by the end a rocking full house will be anticipating a quarter final tie in a few weeks’ time. Champions League and we’re havin’ a laugh. COYS.

By MF

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