White Hart Lane, London
April 14, 2011, 00:15 IST
After a dominating performance in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid head to the White Hart Lane to complete the formalities for a place in the semi finals of the Champions League. If they go through to the semifinals, another round of El Clasicos await the world. But first they need to overcome a Spurs side that has not lost for 6 months at home, with a 17 game unbeaten streak. Spurs did beat Internazionale comprehensively and put in a brave effort against Milan at home. However, against Milan, the North London outfit had the crucial away goal. What makes matter’s worse for Spurs is that they do not have an away goal this time, and will be up against the miserly Mourinho.
Redknapp in his press conference noted,”We know it would take a miracle but miracles do happen.” Clearly Harry would need some moments of magic to stun Mourinho and Real Madrid. Responding to Harry, Mourinho said, “I agree with Redknapp. Football always offers surprises. We must respect Tottenham Hotspur. I know the mentality of English teams and, if I were in their situation, I would never throw in the towel. We will play a serious game and we’ll look to score goals. It will be hard for Spurs to make a comeback.“
Team News and Tactical Brief
Tottenham Hotspur have an amazing unbeaten streak at home and they have made the Lane a fortress.
“I don’t get many bad days here,” commented Redknapp in reference to the team’s six defeats in 67 home matches as manager of Spurs. Also, they have scored 25 goals in UCL so far, highlighting their offensive abilities.
But, their offensive threat, Peter Crouch, would be forced to watch from the sidelines courtesy a red card in the first leg. Aaron Lennon did not start against Stoke but Harry has assured that Lennon would play at home. With Modric as the primary playmaker and Huddlestone getting fit in time, Spurs midfield would be ready to face their toughest assignment this season. With Gareth Bale providing an outlet for attack on the left, Van Der Vaart as supporting striker and Jermaine Defoe as the main striker, Spurs offense looks lively and deadly enough to score goals on the counter attack. But, they can’t wait for Madrid to make the first move. Real would be content in controlling the match while Spurs have to take the attack to Los Galacticos.
With Corluka injured, Spurs might be forced to put Gallas as right back and rely on his experience to counter the threat posed by Ronaldo and Marcelo. Dawson, Kaboul and Assou-Ekotto would complete the defense and they would have to be on top of the game to deny an away goal to Los Blancos.
Probable Starting Line-up: Gomes, Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul, Dawson, Gallas, Bale, Huddlestone, Modric, Lennon, Van Der Vaart, Defoe.
Real Madrid have the cushion of a four goal lead but Jose Mourinho has clearly insisted that his team would look to score goals and not sit back and defend. Los Blancos’ attack will be boosted with the return of Karim Benzema and with Adebayor and Higuain both fit, Mourinho has options to choose from. But, given his history against Spurs and his performance at Santiago Bernabeu, Adebayor is expected to start and Benzema could be given a chance to play before the Clasico.
Ozil, Ronaldo and Alonso did not start against Athletic Bilbao and are expected to feature in the starting line-up. Kaka and Di maria produced superb performances against Athletic but Mourinho might start with Di Maria, with Kaka being introduced later in the game. Sami Khedira will partner Xabi Alonso in the central defensive midfield in all probability, as Lass Diarra and Fernando Gago are both injured.
Mourinho will be without the services of Pepe who has been suspended for this clash but he has an efficient back up in both Raul Albiol and Garay, with the former expected to make the cut. Ramos and Marcelo will take up positions on either side of the defense. Nacho Fernandez, brother of Alex Fernandez, has been tabbed for duty and Madridistas would love to see him on the field even for a brief amount of time. And well, Iker Casillas will start in goal irrespective of the team composition.
Real Madrid don’t have to take any unnecessary risks. Their offense is customized for counter attacks and because Spurs will have to attack, Los Galacticos will have chances to get more goals and finish the tie. Mourinho will ask his team to control the pace of the game, not allow the opposition more time on the ball and hence reduce the chances of conceding a goal.
Probable Starting Line-up: Casillas, Ramos, Carvalho, Albiol, Marcelo, Alonso, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria, Adebayor.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Controlling the tempo of the match would be the key for Real’s success in this leg and who better than Xabi Alonso to pull this off. The Spanish midfielder looked very efficient in the first leg as he shifted wing play at will and also set the tempo of the game very high with his passing and movement. He will be the key to the Real Madrid attack, and in slowing down the game in case Spurs come out all guns blazing.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
Spurs were four goals down at San Siro against the European Champions in the first half and then Gareth Bale decided to do something spectacular, as he scored a sensational hattrick and laid the ground for Tottenham’s progress in the Champions League. Redknapp and Spurs would love to see the same performance and some magic from the Welshman in order to qualify for the Semi-finals and meet Barcelona.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Real Madrid
Spurs would score, there’s no doubt about that; however, considering how deadly Madrid are on the counter and the quality of their attack, the away team are also likely to hit the back of the net at the Lane.