Match preview: Milan vs Spurs. Classic game at the San Siro!
Written by Viorel Mesca
If you plan to take a short vacation right now, I would recommend visiting Milan. Especially if you are a football fan, because tonight at the San Siro stadium, AC Milan welcome Spurs in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
Milan are quotes as favorites for this tie, as they posses a rich history in European football (in comparison with Spurs’ Champions League debut this season) and an abundance of skillful players up front, such as Ibrahimovic, Robinho or Pato (fortunately, for Spurs, “Fantantonio” Cassano is cup-tied as he has previously played for Sampdoria in European football this season). Moreover, AC Milan is currently lying in the 1st place in Serie A.
Ibrahimovic is Spurs’ main threat, as the Swedish hitman has scored 17 goals and produced 10 assists in 26 games in all competitions, and he will be looking to score against the London-based club.
However, the Italians surely remember Spurs’ fantastic performance in both games against “cousins” Inter, as the nerrazzuri almost capitulated at San Siro thanks to the Welsh sensation, the talented Mr. Bale.
One could argue that the goddess of luck smiled upon the Italian giants, as Bale is sidelined for tonight’s clash, missing a glorious opportunity to shine again at the San Siro where he previously scored a fantastic hat-trick.
According to tottenhamhotspur.com, Harry Redknapp said:
“It’s a big loss to us but he’s got a problem with his back. We tried to push him on a little bit but he broke down again on Saturday morning and we couldn’t take a chance with him really.”
Meanwhile, Massimiliano Allegri warns his players:
“It doesn’t matter if Bale doesn’t play because Tottenham have done well recently without him,” warns Allegri. “They are a tough side, very well organised with a good team spirit. Some of their players have real quality.
Luka Modric travels to Italy but remains a major doubt after having his appendix removed just under a fortnight ago. Redknapp hinted that this game may be coming around a bit too soon for Luka as well, adding:
“He joined in yesterday and will do a little bit tonight but at the moment I wouldn’t see him starting the game.”
Despite these injury-related worries, there is a piece of good news for Spurs fans as Rafael Van der “Hero” seems to be fit ahead of tonight’s game.
As for the Italian giants, they will have to manage without Urby Emanuelson, Mark van Bommel, Cassano (all ineligible), Massimo Ambrosini, Andrea Pirlo, Kevin-Prince Boateng,. Gianluca Zambrotta (all injured).
Massimo Allegri could deploy Thiago Silva in a defensive midfielder role, with Yepes and Nesta as centre-backs, and the magnificient trio of Ibravimovic, Robinho and Pato in the first XI.
Redknapp’s lads have nothing to lose tonight, as they return on the stage where they produced one of the greatest second half performances in Champions League history. They were brilliant at this stadium against European defending champions Inter and perhaps they could pull again another rabbit out of their hat.
According to goal.com, Redknapp took the time to praise his players:
“Tottenham are writing a beautiful story this term in the Champions League, it’s another level of football. The Premier League is a great league but this atmosphere is really wonderful, especially for the supporters.”
Harry’s lads were also praised by former hitman Gary Lineker, according to uefa.com:
“I think Tottenham have been a breath of fresh air in the Champions League. I think that often teams can be a bit cagey and feel their way through but Spurs, for the first time in the Champions League group stages, have played this free-flowing, attack-minded, adventurous style of football with two wingers that has to be applauded. There have been loads of goals in all of Tottenham’s games, and they’ve done brilliantly.”
Tonight’s game has all the ingredients to become classic, as both teams score for fun (Spurs have scored 18 goals in 6 matches in the Champions League tournament so far).
Prediction: I would fancy a 2-2 draw with Ibravimovic and Van der Vaart to score.
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