Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tottenham Must Be Wary Of Wounded Milan

Peter Crouch shows his delight after his winner for Tottenham at AC Milan Following Tottenham Hotspur's magnificent 1-0 win at the San Siro, fans of the Lily whites are right to be optimistic. Not only did Spurs show superb maturity in the way they dealt with the physicality of the Milan midfield, but they also showed mettle in defense despite a series of injuries. If that wasn't enough, then the performance of England winner Aaron Lennon certainly was. Under pressure following the performance of Ashley Young in England's match against Denmark, Lennon certainly showed what he was made of in a match, ironically, at the home of one of England manager Fabio Capello's former teams. Not only did Lennon show terrific pace and skill as he ripped past Mario Yepes in the process of creating Tottenham's winner, but his diligent tracking back totally negated the threat of full back Antonini. If Lennon can keep up the kind of form he showed at the San Siro last night, then surely he will reclaim a spot in the England team.

What with the imminent return of Gareth Bale, and the returns to full fitness by Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart, many Spurs fans consider the Milan tie to be done and dusted. However, they are deluding themselves, any side with attacking players of the ilk of Robinho, Ibrahamovich and Pato are a force to be reckoned with, home and away. Harry Redknapp's men can be certain that Allegri's side won't come out of the traps so flat a second time around, and an early Milan goal at the Lane would make things very interesting indeed.

What may be most interesting about the return leg in North London, is the attitude that Spurs approach the game with. If, as promised, they come out all guns blazing and attempt to finish off the tie swiftly, then they may well be punished by the Milan counter attack. However, Harry Redknapp will know the risks of sitting back and inviting pressure, especially from a side with as much Champions League experience as AC Milan. Personally, I expect Redknapp to come out firing with a classic 4-4-2 formation, with Bale and Lennon on either side and Defoe deployed upfront alongside San Siro goalscorer Peter Crouch. Crouch was quite effective in the away match, but one thing I noticed was, following the removal of Rafael Van der Vaart, that no one was running onto Crouch's flicked headers, rendering his ability in the air quite superfluous. If their is one player within the Spurs ranks, capable of turning Crouch flicks into assists, then it is Jermain Defoe, who I am convinced will start the second leg.

Whatever transpires in the final act of this Champions League drama, Spurs can certainly be proud about the progress they have made since Juande Ramos' last game as manager, back in 2008. Particularly this year, in the Champions League, Spurs have proved that they have the quality to compete with Europe's finest, and I doubt anyone would be surprised if they were doing so next year as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment