Bring on Barcelona! Plus Analysis Of Sandro’s AC Milan Performance
I don’t understand why Harry Redknapp and the players have been saying they don’t mind who they get in the quarter finals of the Champions League as long as it’s not Barcelona. For starters, what happens now if we do get them? Are we going to just lie down and say, “well that was fun while it lasted”? I’d hope not.
On Wednesday night showed we shouldn’t fear anyone. I don’t care who Barcelona have in their team or how well they can play. Who cares if Messi is better than Maradona or not? So what if Xavi and Iniesta are the best central midfielders in the world. Danny Alves? Pah, we’ve got Gareth Bale. David Villa? We’ve got…..hmm, well you get what I mean.
Wasn’t the whole point in finishing 4th last season so we had the chance to pit ourselves against the best in Europe? Wednesday was a prime example of what we as fans have wanted for years wasn’t it? So far this season we’ve had every performance under the sun, from 3-0 down against Young Boys to battering Inter Milan at White Hart Lane. A breathtakingly brilliant display against AC Milan in Italy to the somewhat fortunate, very un-spurs like goalless draw. I say bring them on. Whoever it may be as Delia would say, lets be havin’ you.
You could argue any team wants to leave Barcelona until the last possible game. A one off match under the lights at Wembley when anything can happen, but as much as people, myself included, purr over their every move they’re not unbeatable. They may be the best club side since Real Madrid in the late 50′s but had Nicklas Bendtner managed to control the ball properly and produced Arsenal’s one shot of the match they could’ve easily been knock out and that’s against a team who many are now saying it was one of their most embarrassing performances in Europe. Imagine what a team playing well might have done that night?
There’s also the glory factor. It’s what this club we love so much is all about. It’s why I support a team steeped in tradition and often glorious failure. As Spurs fans we never back the favourite, it’s just not in our nature. We’re always standing next to David as he tries to spit in the face of Goliath. If we say they’ll be no surprises in next week’s games we could play any of the following: Schalke 04, Barcelona, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayern Munich, Man United, Chelsea or Real Madrid.
When I look at those teams there’s only two I want to face. Barcelona or Real Madrid. Where’s the glory in facing an English team? I know we owe Shakhtar, but after the campaign so far would we really want to go out against them on away goals or Schalke for that matter? Of course we could beat those teams and before we know it we’re in the semi-final of Europe’s premier competition but the same could be said about either Spanish side. I want my trip to Barcelona God dammit!!
I’ve just looked at those 7 teams again and realised whatever the final list is we’re in the last 8, what a feeling.
Anyway, so onto the game on Wednesday. When Redknapp said before kick off we would go out and attack Milan I thought he was playing a few mind games again just as he had done in the first leg. Unfortunately he wasn’t which was a foolhardy thing to do and looking at the game as a whole, especially the first half, we were lucky to get away with that ambition.
He got the tactics 100% perfect during the first leg. Making the team stay tight and narrow while closing down quickly and attacking mainly down the flanks resulted in Milan running out of space, time and options when they had the ball and giving us the ultimate amount of space to attack into. The same was needed on Wednesday (as it would be if we played Barcelona) but what we got was a very open first half with big gaps between players for Milan to pass into. Nothing much changed throughout the game which was a surprise and worrying, especially as our original plan to attack was thwarted by a lack of ball possession but we did become narrower in the second half which helped but Milan still had a few chances to score albeit from just outside the area on two of those occasions. The one dimensional long ball to Crouch was easily dealt with by Milan’s defenders after a couple of early scares and as you can see from the image we hit Crouch with the long ball as often as we could.
The reason we got the result wasn’t down to Redknapp’s tactics as it was in Milan but because of the players will to win. To a man they just refused to lie down. Forget Audere est Facere, YOU SHALL NOT PASS was the motto of the night especially from the likes of Dawson, Gallas plus the imperious and quite possibly perfect on the night Sandro. As you’ll see from the various images below Sandro’s performances was immense. It was better than immense. It was basically match winning but without the winning goal. It was better than Wilson Palacios has ever played in a Spurs shirt. It was a Claude Makélélé and Michael Essien performance rolled into one. We worry with every transfer window that we’ll lose Modric or Bale and now we’ve got the young Brazilian to add to that list, because on that form, at his age, with limited experience, he’ll be one of the worlds greats in that position.
Those somewhat excitable and some may say over the top opinions aren’t based on just Wednesday night either. It’s been coming for a while now as he’s improved with every game he’s played as he’s got used to the pace of the game and to his team-mates and life in London. Against Wolves he was my man of the match, making tackles, interceptions and for the most part keeping possession although this is one area he needs a little work on. In the Milan away game he was just as brilliant as he was on Wednesday night.
Wilson Palacios, even when on form wouldn’t get in front of this kid at the moment. The only central midfielder who must be confident of getting his name on the team sheet alongside Sandro is Modric. I said a while ago that I think Tom Huddlestone will struggle to get back into the side and unless Sandro’s dropped because of his age I can’t see how THud will become a starter again. That’s how good he’s playing at the moment and with every passing game that Tommy isn’t available for selection, he gets closer to becoming a bench warmer. There is one saving grace for THud though and that’s just how good Sandro can become. He could be the quality player we would need in that position who could cover a marauding left back’s forward runs meaning the Bale at left back debate could be back on the cards with Modric on the left of midfield. I’m drooling a little at the prospect of that but for it to work these performances can’t be a flash in the pan, this has got to be the norm.
I saw a few people discussing Modric’s performance and questioning it, which is why I’ve also included an image of his pass completion stats. He was by far the best Spurs player at keeping possession with a 90% success rate. Sure he was brushed off the ball a couple of times by Seedorf in particular but have you seen the size difference there? The little man does his best and in all fairness that part of his game isn’t often noticed because he does such a good job. He came up against one of Europe’s great players having one of his better games. If we were to get Barcelona, keeping possession when we get it would be key and therefore so would our best player, Super Luka.
Dawson, who I’ve been critical off recently had an excellent game. It was the perfect game for him really because he’s an old fashioned English centre half. Head it away, tackle hard and hoof it if necessary. I don’t mean that to sound condescending because it’s why we love him. It’s when he tries to do things other than that he fails.
Alongside Gallas they’re beginning to form a good partnership and understanding, although quite how we can let in 6 goals against Blackpool and Wolves but keep two clean sheets against AC Milan is bewildering but then it wouldn’t be Spurs any other way would it. Just look at how quiet they kept Ibrahimovich. Two shots for the entire game and they were both from free kicks. The thumb sucking Robinho wasn’t much better either.
Wednesday was all about belief. Belief we could get the result we needed, belief we deserve to be at the top of Europe’s game and belief that whoever we get in the next round won’t want to face us. We’re only four games away from Wembley after all.
Submitted by THFC1882
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