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Glory Night Could See Spurs Through

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It’s finally here. The game every Spurs fan has been waiting for since the draw for the group stages of the Champions League was made. The winners of the competition last season have made their trip to N17, and now Inter Milan will be preparing for their toughest game yet. Hopefully.

I say hopefully because it’s hard to tell which Spurs side will turn up. So far this season we’ve saved our best, and at times worst performances for European competition. Strangely those mixed displays haven’t come in different games but instead in different halfs. The second half against Young Boys, first half against Bremen and second half 2 weeks ago in the San Siro. The remaining 45 minutes in each of those games are best left forgotten.

We were taught a footballing lesson 2 weeks ago and not just for 45 minutes. Inter bossed the entire game and a 4-1 scoreline would’ve given a better idea of how the two teams performed. We showed grit and resilience as a team and 2 pieces of genius and another solid finish gave Gareth Bale the match ball and us a respectable result, but that shouldn’t mask over how we performed or make you think we’ll win tonight. Sure, this team we’ve got can beat anyone in the world on their day. If they performed as we know they can for an entire 90 minutes they could beat Barcelona, Real Madrid and anyone else in front of them but they can also capitulate and have a habit of not turning up or turning up late as we’ve seen on numerous occasions already this season.

What will tonight bring? More heroics from Bale perhaps? A masterclass from van der Vaart if he plays? The return to form of Lennon? How about Modric taking the game by the scruff of the neck and guiding us home? Another Crouch hat-trick in Europe? All these things are possible but the problem with our 2 late goals in the San Siro is Benitez and Inter will be ready for us. As strange as it sounds, had we lost 4-1 I’d be more confident about tonight because it’s only natural for a team to think they’ll do it again. Now they’ll know this team can hurt them and set about the game to stop that.

Whatever happens it’s going to be an amazing night at the Lane. These are the night’s the players worked so hard for last season. When they step out onto the pitch with the sound of Zadok the Priest ringing in their ears the atmosphere will hit them. A true European night that will rival any north London derby. It should lift the players, bring their adrenaline to the surface and result in the quick start. If the Spurs players can control that adrenaline and focus it into quick, fluid pass and move football we could have what would be regarded as a shock on our hands.

There’s no reason why this team can’t win tonight and if they do they’ll have one foot firmly placed in the next round. If they lose it could be an uphill struggle. It’s not the games we’d have left, although Bremen won’t be easy and Twente have shown they’re hard to beat at home, but if Inter win, they’re through to the next stage and Benitez is definitely the type of manager who will rest players for their remaining games, meaning Bremen and Twente could get points we’ve missed out on.

To get through to the next round it looks like we need to win 3 games out of the 6. If we win our 2 remaining home games we’re through in our first season of Champions League football, a feat that shouldn’t be overlooked if achieved given how long it took the other British teams to get to that stage.

As always I seem to discuss how Redknapp will decide to play, mainly because he changes things about so often and at times doesn’t appear to know exactly what he wants. I presume Crouch will start with vdV just behind him and we’ll look to play the deep cross to the back post hoping Crouch will knock it down for the Dutchman to score. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of that working though judging by how easily Lucio dealt with the threat of Crouch in the last game. We need to look at what we did right in the last game.

Unfortunately that wasn’t a great deal. That sounds harsh but it’s true. It was a great fightback and we were much better in the second half but how much had Inter turned off? Were they really going for it as much as they were before the break? It’s natural for a team to take the foot of the accelerator when they’re 4-0 up. We have to take some credit too of course for managing to close down the centre of the pitch more than we were doing in the first half and limiting them to long shots instead of the letting them walk straight through us. More of the same tonight is a must.

We have to be tight. I’ve seen people wanting to play 4-4-2 and really take it to them which is a nice idea but just wouldn’t work. It’s not long ago we tried to do that against the little known Swiss team and we found ourselves 3-0 down after 30 minutes. Do it against a team of Inters quality and we’ll get stuffed. Rumours are Huddlestone could return which would be a very good thing. If he and Modric play together and stay close, not allowing the likes of Sneijder time and space we stand a chance. Much like Arsenal they don’t play with much width and concentrate their attacks centrally. If you close off that area of threat they have to go wide which unlike us isn’t where their strength lies, especially if they decide to not let their full backs get too far forward with the threat of Bale and Lennon.

While I don’t like to play defensively I think we need to find a good balance tonight. I’d play a back 4 of Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas and Kaboul with each of them given the instruction to defend and only defend. If you’re allowed to bring the ball out then do it but otherwise just concentrate on keeping it tight and then give the ball to a man in white. With Huddlestone and Modric sitting in deep “playmaker” roles with not much space between them and the back four we should be able to squeeze the space they want. This does rely on pushing the defence up fairly high though which could cause a problem with the pace of Eto’o and Cudicini in goal. It would though allow Bale, Lennon, vdV and Crouch to get forward whenever they can. That should be enough guile, speed and creativity to cause Inter problems all night.

Don’t go all out attack but we’ve got to cause them problems. We’ve got to start quickly and I mean really quickly. Don’t expect too much from Bale tonight but the fact he’ll be closely watched and quite possibly taken out early, this should afford more space for vdV if he plays which is something Inter really won’t want.

It seems every week there’s a massive game for us at the moment and come Saturday we’ll have another one but tonight is all about the glory we’ve come to expect at Spurs. A true night for the fans. A night the noise levels will be heard all over London. It’ll be an extremely hard game and one we could easily lose but as I’ve said, on our day we can beat anyone. Will tonight be our day? God I hope so.


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