What: Champions League (Round of 16)
Who: Tottenham Hotspur (1) vs AC Milan (0) (First leg scores in brackets)
When: Wednesday 9th March, 2011, 19:45 UK time
Where: White Hart Lane, London, England

Extending the European Adventure

Harry Redknapp waited for more than 15 years to lead a team into Europe’s top club competition – but he has made an instant impact this season.

Expectations were fairly low for Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage however, after edging out Inter Milan to top their group, they now stand on the cusp of eliminating the Nerazzurri’s city rivals AC Milan in the Round of 16. It is fair to say that Redknapp’s team is not flavour of the month in Italy.

A solid performance at the San Siro belied Tottenham’s limited experience in the Champions League, with Peter Crouch’s strike earning a deserved 1-0 victory. But the job is only half done and AC Milan are sure to be fired up after the Joe Jordan-Gennaro Gattuso incident in the first leg. Spurs will be taking nothing for granted with a spot in the quarter-finals up for grabs.

“We have to treat it as a one-off and we have to go for it,” said Redknapp, who hopes to be able to unleash Gareth Bale on the left wing. “We’re at home and we have to go and try to win the game. It’s not natural for us to sit on a 1-0 lead for 90 minutes. We will pick an attacking team and have a go at them, that’s how we have got to play.”

Chasing the Game

While AC Milan are looking down from the top of the Serie A table, they face an uphill battle to save their Champions League campaign. The first leg performance was flat and lacking in creativity, but Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri is certain to adopt a more positive game plan at White Hart Lane. Nonetheless, the odds are stacked against the Italians.

Clawing back the one-goal deficit will be tougher still due to the Rossoneri’s absentees in midfield. With Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini injured and Gattuso starting his four-match ban, Allegri is also worryingly short of experienced options to break up Spurs’ slick midfield passing.

A vital win away to slumping Juventus at the weekend, hot on the heels of a 3-0 demolition of title rivals Napoli the week before, provided a welcome boost before the trip to England and a third straight win, though adding a fourth in London will be a far greater achievement.

Yet striker Robinho, who spent 18 months in English football, remains confident that he and his team-mates can reach the last eight. "I honestly believe we can win in England. Our goal is to come back from England having qualified for the next round of the Champions League", said the former Manchester City man


Recent form

Tottenham Hotspur:
AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (15/02); Champions League)
Blackpool 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (22/02; Premier League)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (06/03; Premier League)

AC Milan:

Chievo 1-2 AC Milan (20/02; Serie A)
AC Milan 3-0 Napoli (28/02; Serie A)
Juventus 0-1 AC Milan (05/03; Serie A)

Key absences

Tottenham Hotspur: Tom Huddlestone, Jonathan Woodgate, Vedran Corluka, Ledley King, Younes Kaboul

AC Milan: Kevin Prince Boateng (doubt), Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini

Players to watch

Tottenham Hotspur – Luka Modric: The Croatian came off the bench for less than half an hour in the first leg but, now fully fit again, his range of passing and sublime touch will ask questions of Milan’s makeshift midfield. If Modric is on song, Spurs should dominate possession. And Peter Crouch caused enough problems at the San Siro to suggest the Italians have not worked out how to stop him.

AC Milan – Zlatan Ibrahimovic: For AC Milan, much rests on the shoulders of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is the club’s top goalscorer. The Swede was excellently marshalled in the first leg, however he has the skill and technique to turn the tie around in an instant. Allegri will also need a big night from Mathieu Flamini, with so many other midfielders unavailable. 

Match Prediction

This tie is very much Tottenham’s to lose. Despite some underwhelming results domestically, Redknapp’s men have the attacking weapons to finish off Milan and he has promised not to sit on the slender lead. With key players missing, the Italians will struggle to gain control in midfield and have not yet faced the twin threat of Bale and Aaron Lennon. Expect Ibrahimovic and company to bow out of the competition at White Hart Lane in another fiesty contest.

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