‘Appy ‘Arry is looking a little glum of late; Tottenham have had a disappointing run int he Premier League, collecting a dismal 3 points from a possible 12 in the games against West Ham, Wigan, Wolves and Blackpool. Dropping 9 points in games against 4 relegation candidates is hardly the type of form that will see Spurs regain the 4th place they fought so hard to reach last season.
Still, if Tottenham were to win the Champions League, their league form would be irrelevant as they’d qualify automatically for next season’s competition. And reaching the semi-finals could barely be easier for Redknapp and his charges, it’s just a case of negotiating an entirely straightforward tie against the best coach in the world, who is managing the most successful team in European football history. Oh dear. So here we go, let’s have a look at where Real Madrid are most dangerous and consider the 5 biggest threats Mourinho’s men pose to Spurs.
Okay, his coach says he won’t be playing, but we all know the arch-spin merchant Mourinho wil do whatever it takes to gain an advantage and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see ‘CR7’ as he is ludicrously called in Spain, strolling onto the Bernabeu pitch come Tuesday evening.
27 La Liga goals, 4 Champions League goals and 6 Copa del Rey goals mean that the former Manchester United attacker has a mind-bogglingly impressive 37 goals for Real already this season. The Portuguese has come along way from the silly hair and ineffectual displays in his early days at Manchester United, and were it not for the little Argentine at arch-rival Barcelona, the Madrid superstar would probably be the best player in the world. If Tottenham can somehow keep Ronaldo quiet, they will drastically improve their chances of getting anything out of this tie.
Having won every home game in the Champions League and having only lost 1 of their last 23 home matches, playing Real Madrid in the Bernabeu is a little like taking on Michael Schumacher down super-karts, you’ve got basically no chance. Luckily for Tottenham, Real showed a tiny chink in their seemingly impregnable armour yesterday by losing 1-0 at home to Sporting Gijon. The flip side of that is that they will now probably be even more desperate to obliterate Spurs after such an embarrassing result.
The French striker, who joined Real from Lyon in 2009, was not a player Mourinho wanted at the start of this season. However, due to injuries elsewhere, the centre-forward, who has played 32 of Real’s 36 games this season, has found himself promoted to a position of first-choice striker. The Frenchman has impressed since then and has scored 10 goals in his last 9 games; his strength, power and finishing ability will certainly test a Tottenham defence that is likely to be shorn of its most experienced centre-back, William Gallas.
Mourinho is famous for building his successful teams on a solid foundation and that means having a back 4 who rarely concede goals. In the Champions League, Los Merengues have conceded 3 goals in 7 games, while, having played 29 matches in La Liga, the back 4, which is usually made up of Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho and Marcelo have let in just 22 goals. Even the Premier League’s finest defense has conceded more goals than Madrid with 25, oh, and guess which team that is… you got it… Chelsea. Still, fortunately for Spurs, Marcelo apparently won’t be fir for Tuesday’s game, which might give Aaron Lennon a chance to have a real go at Real.
Mesut Ozil and Angle Di Maria are the kind of players who do their work under the radar, they are happy for the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka to take the plaudits, while they weave their magic from midfield. The young German, Ozil, who shot to international attention during the 2010 World Cup, has been an instant hit at Real since his move from Werder Bremen in the summer and the Argentine Di Maria has had a similar impact since arriving from Benfica.
Ozil has provided 10 goals and 16 assists this season, while Di Maria has 8 goals and 18 assists – meaning both players have either scored or made 26 goals each this season. Such ability to provide and to pounce mean that Sandro, who may well reprise the defensive role he performed so admirably against AC Milan, Assou-Ekotto and the painfully slow Corluka will have their work cut out to marshall the deadly duo, leaving the back-line struggling against both forwards and midfielders.
So, Tottenham have got it all to do if they are to stand a chance of getting through to the semi-finals, but even in spite of the possible dangers I’ve mentioned above, Spurs have already proven they can surprise teams in this season’s Champions League, and if they manage to get a draw or even a 1-0 loss at the Bernabeu, then the return leg at the Lane will provide them with a fantastic chance to do the unthinkable and knock out Europe’s greatest club from the Champions League.
For more Spurs stories, rumour, thoughts and theories, follow me on Twitter: @StuartCFootball
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