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Milan plan to take game to Tottenham

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Chris Bevan | 09:17 UK time, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

He has spent the last 18 years playing for the world's biggest clubs in the top echelons of the European game, so these days it is safe to say it takes something special to surprise AC Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf.

But even the 34-year-old Dutchman was taken aback by the pace of Tottenham's Aaron Lennon - or "the man on the motorbike" as he calls him - when their teams fought out an electric first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

It was a typically rapid raid down the right by Lennon that led to Peter Crouch scoring the only goal of an intriguing encounter at the San Siro on 15 February, giving Spurs a crucial advantage in their quest for a quarter-final place.

"I told Lennon that the police would stop him for speeding," Seedorf said with a smile. "I told him he was not allowed to go this fast."

Lennon's pace was only one sub-plot of an absorbing match that demonstrated the tactical flexibility of Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri. But the England winger could again have a big role to play when the sides do battle in Wednesday's return leg at White Hart Lane.

One thing is already certain. Milan will approach this game in a very different fashion to the way they did that first meeting, when Allegri said beforehand: "Our objective is not to concede a goal." This time, the opposite is true: Milan have to score (at least) one goal to have any chance of progressing.

When I spoke to him last week, Seedorf told me that Milan must take the game to Tottenham and play more like they did in the second half at the San Siro than the first, when a combination of their own cagey approach and their opponent's pressing game resulted in the Italian side being pinned back in their own half and struggling to impose themselves on the game.

Milan's average positions in the first and second halves of the first leg of their Champions League tie with Tottenham

 

"What we didn't expect at the start of the game was for Tottenham to be waiting for us on the halfway line and then coming at us so strongly," said Seedorf, who was operating in the hole behind Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic but was subdued by the constant attention he received from Spurs midfielder Wilson Palacios.

"But I think Spurs gave so much in the first half that in the second they could not do it with the same intensity. That's why I would say that if we can add more speed to our game on Wednesday, especially with how quickly we move the ball, then we can create the space we didn't manage to find early in the first game.

"The main thing, though, is that we are a little bit more attack-minded and have enough players looking to do some pressing up front like we did later in the game."

Milan retained their 4-3-1-2 formation for the entire 90 minutes of the first leg but the average position of their players before and after the break (when Seedorf was substituted) demonstrates how dramatic Allegri's change in initiative was when it became obvious his side were being outplayed. It had to be.

But Spurs are adaptable, too. Arguably, Milan's switch actually suited them. It meant Redknapp's men defended far deeper in the second half - as they will if they are under pressure at White Hart Lane. They continued to keep the Italian side's frontmen quiet, while using the speed of Lennon to counter-attack quickly down the right.

That might be a recurring problem for Milan on Wednesday, especially if Gareth Bale is fit enough to start on the opposite flank. The Welshman twice destroyed Inter Milan in the group stages of the competition.

Seedorf recognises the threat that Bale poses but says he has seen enough of him to know there are ways of keeping him quiet. That said, his own side have often struggled to deal with width and pace this season.

"Those were two excellent games from Bale against Inter," Seedorf said. "But I have also followed how he has been doing in the Premier League. In Europe, that type of player can give his side a big advantage against teams who don't really know how to defend. They find more space. Bale can make a great difference, not only with his speed but because he has great feet, too. However, we know how to defend."

Tottenham's average positions during the first and second halves of the first leg of their Champions League tie with AC Milan

Contrary to the approach that characterised their route to the last 16, Tottenham clearly know how to defend, too. Redknapp may like to encourage the belief his side are simply a gung-ho outfit but we saw at the San Siro that there is far more to his approach than that - even if, unlike Allegri, his instinct is to look for goals.

Going forward, even if Bale is not fit enough to start the game, we can expect Spurs to use their widemen as much as possible and try to find Crouch with high balls into the box from the wings, much as they did in the first leg.

But, whether they attempt to push Milan back or sit deep themselves, Redknapp will demand defensive discipline from Spurs, who will again attempt to starve Robinho and Ibrahimovic of possession and chances by working hard from the midfield backwards. And that includes the wingers, who must track back as well as attack.

I put it to Seedorf that he will not come across players like Crouch, Lennon and Bale too often in Serie A, where Milan are five points clear at the top of the table after wining at Juventus on Saturday. He disagreed, saying that it is not Tottenham's players that are different, only the way they are utilised.

To back up his view, Seedorf turned to MIlan right-back Ignazio Abate.

"In England, games are much more open, with teams going for the win and being less tactical," said Seedorf. "In Italy, you won't find that sort of space to do the damage. Abate has the same kind of speed as Lennon but he does more work defensively than offensively. It is down to a different way of thinking."

Wednesday's meeting offers us a teasing reversal of both those tactical stereotypes - the English manager's inclination to attack and the Italian's to defend. Much of the outcome will depend on how well each man operates outside his comfort zone. As for Seedorf, he will hope there are no more surprises in store for him or Milan.

You can read the second part of my interview with Seedorf - about how much European football has changed during his career - next week.

Follow me throughout the season on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Clarence Seedorf - what a guy!

    That is all

  • Comment number 2.

    Spurs need to score early on Wednesday. They cannot sit back and take on Ibrahimovic and pato. They have to keep milan pegged back and KEEP THE BALL. If spurs can go in at half time in the lead, They will surely progress.

  • Comment number 3.

    Milan have quite a few players missing, especially in the central midfield area, which does a lot of hard work to allow the front three to play with a certain amount of freedom and allow them to be lazy.

  • Comment number 4.

    If I were Harry I'd be tempted to use Defoe instead of Crouch from the start. Defoe obviously has way more pace and can therefore get around the pitch to close down space much more quickly that Crouch or VDV. Crouch would be a great sub to bring on if Spurs are hanging on to win headers in the defensive third.

    Having Bale back along with Lennon is a huge bonus - any counter-attacking opportunities can be exploited with those two on the pitch

  • Comment number 5.

    In fact, I might even use Defoe and Crouch and keep VDV out of it - he isn't likely to close down space as well as Defoe and he doesn't provide an "out ball" like Crouch can.

    In a backs-to-the-wall job VDV wouldn't be high on my list of choices...

  • Comment number 6.

    If Milan play well then it will be extremely difficult for tottenham, they need bale to be fit to give them an outlet and need modric and van der vart to control the game. Milan are like many italian teams offensivly, inconsistent, if ibrahimovic plays well then it will be difficult to contain him, i would put my money on spurs but it wouldn't be surprising if Milan were to win, they have that much quality and experience aswell as a shrewd defence which could prove very difficult to break down.

  • Comment number 7.

    Abate and Antonini are not good enough to play for Milan. They will get ripped apart again.

    Yepes and Nesta are way past their best, Thiago Silva is not a midfeilder and is 100% uncomfortable playing there. Robinho and Ibrahimovic are next to useless when they have to chase the game.

    If the same Milan team starts (obviously Gattuso won't) then Spurs will cruise through

  • Comment number 8.

    I can't believe that Seedorf is still only 34. This guy seems to have been around for milleniums. I remember watching him at Euro 96 playing a sort of central sweeper/free role for Holland. He was fantastic then and he still is now, although not as effective as he once was.

    The likes of Lennon and Bale should try their hand abroad, and broaden their footballing abilities. It is clear that they are a danger within Europe, however this fails to transmit to the National team. Some culture, and fine tuning of their positional and possession play could really benefit them.

  • Comment number 9.

    I disagree - I'd bring Defoe in in the last half hour, when Milan will be tiring and he can do damage. He always seems to struggle against opposition who can move the ball well.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm a birmingham fan, and i love seeing all the British teams doing succesfully in Europe.

    Tbh, the thing I'd love to see most in this game, is Gattuso get decked by Joe Jordan and then Tottenham progress to the next round

  • Comment number 11.

    Reckon Spurs will beat Milan and comfortably as I don't think Milan's weakened central midfield will be able to provide sufficient defensive cover.

  • Comment number 12.

    Im backing spurs to go throughm although an early milan goal could really upset them as they are totally inexpreienced when it coems to aggreagate in the latter stages of European competition.

    This will be a transition season for Milan. They have 7 or 8 old guys on huge contracts out of contract at the end of the season, so I suspect next year they will be far stronger, leaner and faster

  • Comment number 13.

    Firstly good luck to both Arsenal and Spurs in Europe this week.

    I have to admit before the first leg I fancied Milan quite strongly having watched alot of them this season. They badly missed K.P Boateng tho and if he is missing again this week along with Pirlo, Ambrosini and Gattusso I think Spurs can easily cut of the supply to the unquestionably dangerous frontline Milan possess. Also Lennon and Bale should have the beating of Abate and Antonini all night long.

  • Comment number 14.

    I actually think Spurs are favourites to go through now. Milan look tired and old, and I think the pace and strength of the English game is going to punish them.

  • Comment number 15.

    First goal (if there is one) will be crucial. If Milan get it then they have the strong advantage as the away goal Spurs got will be equalled. If Spurs score first then I expect them to sit back and use their pace to hit milan on the counter attack. I suspect that Milan will be cautious at the start and put pressure on in the second half if the game remains goaless.

    I suspect Spurs should get through after the first leg result, but of course I will be hoping that Milan can rescue this tie.

  • Comment number 16.

    Speaking as a Spurs fan, our problem lies in our inconsitency. I've witnessed us get mullered by Blackburn and win 1-0, muller Blackpool and lose 3-1 and then we can go to the San Siro and not concede, yet concede 3 against Wolves! (our last two league results have been suicidal in the race for fourth - before the blackpool game I could see 6 points from two games and then joint 3rd with a game in hand, but now we will struggle!) We seem to fall victim of the old 'the better tge opposition, the better you play' mentality that affects many teams. I am always confident that we have the players to beat any team in Europe on our day and was frustrated that we didn't beat United and City at home when we quite clearly should've done.
    Football is cliched as the funny old game for a reason. Before kick off of any match one could quite easily predict the score to go entirely against form and expectations. I don't see this being any different when Arsenal travel to Barcelona or when we host Milan.
    I truly believe that we will prosper from this tie, particularly if we start as we did over there - the opposition can't score if they don't have the ball after all. If Milan begin to press and maintain possession they will be wary of our ability to play hard and fast on the counter attack, especially through Lennon and Bale. Holes will probably appear towards the end as they did in both Inter games and the first leg, and they can be exploited.
    If we concentrate and play our natural game whilst maintaining a sense of that we hold a 1-0, away goal advantage then Phil McNulty will be writing a 'Coming of age' blog on Thursday morning. If not, it could be a case of 'A bridge too far!'....
    COME ON YOU SPURS!
    p.s....I echo the sentiments about Seedorf's age...I could've sworn he was older! I used to think of him as being in his thirties years ago! By my reckoning he should be at least 40 by now! Good on the lad, for staying at the top for so long. On a selfish note I hope he plays - and mainly because unfortunately for him it will be to our advantage!

  • Comment number 17.

    Milan are simply past it. They were the one of the worst teams we played last season when beating them home and away, yet the majority of that team are still there this season. Ibrahimovic proved to be massively overrated again and I can't see any way that Milan can get back into this tie.

  • Comment number 18.

    Clarence Seedorf obviously has a a deep knowledge of the game. I hope he goes into management after he retires although at this rate it might not be till he's forty!

  • Comment number 19.

    From an Arsenal fan, Spurs are gonna destroy AC Milan. They're so over rated. Zlatan proves how average he is game by game, and don't forget Robinho, who did hit 14 goals one season for Man City (most of which at home to relegation teams). Spurs were average in the first leg, yet could of won 3-0. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a 3 or 4 nil win.

  • Comment number 20.

    Once again there has been a lot of Zlatan bashing on here. If people watched Serie A a bit more they would maybe appreciate hos talents a bit more. He has never quite lived up to his potential but whoever he plays for wins the league!!! He always hits 20 plus goals a season and almost the same again in assists (even at Barca where most of you seem to think he failed despite 20 plus goals and a la liga medal).

    Spurs are a better side than Milan at the moment, they should win by exposing weaknesses in midfield and defence. But slating a player of the undoubted talent of Ibrahimovic is very narrow minded. Double against arsenal last year??

    It is no coincidence that milan have been nowhere near a title for years, they sign zlatan and are now well on their way to winning this year. the man wins titles

  • Comment number 21.

    I expect Spurs to win at a canter, grabbing at least 3 goals possibly more. Italian teams have always been more defensive minded playing well on the counter or methodically breaking teams down. But with Spurs having that crucial away goal I think Milan have to attack and with the pace of Bale and Lennon, and the brains of Modric and VDV (if fit) this will play right into Spurs hands.

  • Comment number 22.

    Pace will destroy Milan. Defoe, Lennon and Bale will win it for Spurs if they play.

  • Comment number 23.

    I disagree, with some comments about the threat of Milan, Italian teams are not a force anymore, mark my words it will be a spurs win tomorrow, 2-1 to them, 3-1 on aggregate.

  • Comment number 24.

    Is Seedorf the only player to have won the European Cup with three different clubs?

    A legend for this statistic alone...

  • Comment number 25.

    It is no coincidence that milan have been nowhere near a title for years, they sign zlatan and are now well on their way to winning this year. the man wins titles

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    You could also argue that Inter Milan were seen as a favourable draw for years. They got rid of Ibrahimovic and signed a decent striker in Eto'o and suddenly became Champions of Europe.

    And that Milan's gain this season has been down to Inter's Rafa Benitez inspired slump.

  • Comment number 26.

    25. At 3:24pm on 08 Mar 2011, We all follow United wrote:


    You could also argue that Inter Milan were seen as a favourable draw for years. They got rid of Ibrahimovic and signed a decent striker in Eto'o and suddenly became Champions of Europe.

    And that Milan's gain this season has been down to Inter's Rafa Benitez inspired slump.

    --------------------

    The man has won the league 8 out of the last 9 seasons in 3 different leagues with 4 different clubs (soon to be five clubs)

    Eto'o played wide right for the whole champions league campaign so this statement doesnt really hold any water. Inter winning the Champions league was much more down to a team spirit and well organised tactics inspired by Jose Mourinho than any individual player.

    This season he has 19 goals and 12 assists in 33 games, that;s 31 goals directly from him in 33 games (many of these the odd goal in tight matches)

  • Comment number 27.

    Entirely agree with King David Luiz.

    Ibrahimovic has proved time and again that he is a winner, and consistently hits 20+ goals a season as well as proving a big target for the long balls to knock down to a strike partner.

    Add in the fact that for someone his size he has remarkably good footwork (ever see the goal for ajax where he rounded half a team and the keeper and slotted in?)

    The man is a proven goalscorer and I fancy him to be on the scoresheet tonight!

  • Comment number 28.

    @26

    Excellent analysis of Ibrahimovic and especially excellent analysis of Inter in 2010.

    Mourinho materminded this success, playing to the stregths of a team headed by a very ordinary striker in Diego Milito. However Miltio looked a world beater, largely to the fact the team around him was functioning so well, especially Eto'o in his wide right position.

    The modern game calls for a formation absed around one central striker, and Ibrahimovic is arguably the best at this role in the world, possibly on a par with Drogba. The domestic stats quite rightly back this up.

    However, as much as Ibra is a phenomenal player, there are shortcomings within his performances in Europe. My hope is that he overcomes them tonight and proves how good he can be, silencing the critics which mostly come from this country...as nobody is Italy, Spain or Holland would ever doubt his ability or influence.

    I'm sure the Italians still have their doubts as to whether Ian Rush was any good.

  • Comment number 29.

    My tuppence worth on the Ibrahimovic debate.
    The guy is undoubtedly a success on the domestic front. But at the very top level in the most important games whether it be in Champions league or playing for Sweden he goes missing. I'm sure Spurs are happier facing him than Samuel Eto'o, whose Champions League pedigree is unquestionable.
    Spurs to cruise through 3-0 to-morrow; Milan will not handle their pace and intensity.
    Now, go and prove me wrong Ibra !!

  • Comment number 30.

    A striker scores 20+ goals every season; won 8 leauge titles out of nine in 3 different leagues with 4 different clubs and you can come and do all this bashing about him? That is so unbelievable!!!!! So much noise about Crouch,Lennon, Bale, Defoe and VDV, these guys are not anywhere near Ibra and you are bashing him? Well,we will see how the game will pan out tomorrow,but remember that when AC Milan goes out to attack,it is a beauty to watch.

  • Comment number 31.

    Scoring 20+ goals a season in an Inter side walking to the league every year, what a legend. Next you're gonna tell us Kenny Miller never gets the respect he deserves, after all those goals he scored in the Scottish league.

    Barca know they made an sickeningly bad mistake paying all that money for him.

  • Comment number 32.

    So much noise about Crouch,Lennon, Bale, Defoe and VDV, these guys are not anywhere near Ibra and you are bashing him? Well,we will see how the game will pan out tomorrow,but remember that when AC Milan goes out to attack,it is a beauty to watch.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Really? Did they not set out to attack in the first leg or something then because they were absolute garbage, with Ibrahimovic yet again flopping in the big game. He's not the donkey some people make him out to be but he's certainly not the world beater others think he is either. The deal Barcelona did for him ranks as one of the worst ever in my opinion.

  • Comment number 33.

    31. At 4:19pm on 08 Mar 2011, Halcyons_mystical_flight wrote:
    Scoring 20+ goals a season in an Inter side walking to the league every year, what a legend. Next you're gonna tell us Kenny Miller never gets the respect he deserves, after all those goals he scored in the Scottish league.

    Barca know they made an sickeningly bad mistake paying all that money for him
    ---------------------

    1. Kenny Miller was never really prolific in Scotland only having a couple of good goalscoring seasons.

    2. He was also winning titles at Juve and Ajax as well as being 2 time player of the year in Italy. Not just part of a dominant inter team but one of the main reasons for an Inter team being dominant.

    Does your point mean that barca forwards only score because they dominate la liga?? Drogba and Rooney only scored 20+ last year because Chelsea and Utd dominated? Isnt it that these teams dominate because of the scorers and not vice versa?

    The only point I was trying to make is that most people in Britain judge him on a few Champions league matches they have seen.

    I would never doubt that eto'o is a better goalscorer in europe, but how does this make zlatan ibrahimovic a bad player? without him Barca wouldnt have beaten Arsenal at the emirites. and despite 'not fitting into their team' he scored 21 goals.

    Also the main point made by many in this blog is how Milan are so poor in midfield, So where is your reasoning for his 19 goals and 12 assists this season for them?

  • Comment number 34.

    Spurs are going to need to defend a lot better than they have in the games against Blackpool and Wolves and pay more attention to the shape of the team in midfield, getting the balance right between attack and covering the defence, as they did so well in Milan. If they do then the pace of Lennon and Bale should kil Milan off but ut's going to be close and tense before its resolved.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the problem spurs may have is that Harry will most likely play with a central midfield pairing of Modric and either Palacios or Sandro.

    I know many spurs fans worry about palacios in our midfield this season as he has not been performing anywhere near the standard he originally set for himself when first joining however, in leg 1 him and Sandro were immense in the middle breaking up the play and interrupting Milans midfield trio before they cold play any decent ball through to their forwards.

    I worry that with playing with Modric (who is my favourite player BTW) who will undoubtedly work hard he will not offer the samr defensive cover that we enjoyed in the San Siro. Being at home we may not need that extra cover but I think Milan will have a real go and despite noises from their camp, I think they are rattled after losing at home in a first leg they expected to cruise through.

    I would play Modric behind Crouch as an advanced playmaker as VDVaart has not played since the first leg and must be short of fitness (as he has looked all season despite great performances).

    I think will end up 2-1 Spurs, 3-1 aggregate, fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 36.

    The only point I was trying to make is that most people in Britain judge him on a few Champions league matches they have seen.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is most probably true but those Champion League games are arguably the biggest that his team play that season. And he invariably fails in them.

  • Comment number 37.

    32. At 4:22pm on 08 Mar 2011, We all follow United wrote:
    So much noise about Crouch,Lennon, Bale, Defoe and VDV, these guys are not anywhere near Ibra and you are bashing him? Well,we will see how the game will pan out tomorrow,but remember that when AC Milan goes out to attack,it is a beauty to watch.
    --------------------------

    Id also like to make it clear that i disagree with this, these are all good players and I strongly fancy spurs tonight. I just felt the Zlatan bashing was harsh

  • Comment number 38.

    36. At 4:48pm on 08 Mar 2011, We all follow United wrote:
    The only point I was trying to make is that most people in Britain judge him on a few Champions league matches they have seen.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is most probably true but those Champion League games are arguably the biggest that his team play that season. And he invariably fails in them.

    ------------------

    Im pretty sure he did very well in his last match. Also, just because a team plays an english team in the champions league this does not make it their most important match that season.

    Watch some other leagues and then judge :)

  • Comment number 39.

    I have been a Spurs fan since I was seven and, now that I have reached 51 years, I feel I must make some small comment on the state of my beloved institution. Yes, I agree, a win against AC Milan would be great. But after the sheer ecstacy I experienced after we managed to pick up one point out of six from our only two games over a three or more week period, I'm not sure I could stand the excitement. I personally would have preferred the wins over relegation strugglers Blackpool and Wolves than a win over AC Milan. Perhaps we can attribute the stellar success of these last two matches to the "warm weather training break" in Dubai, organised by messrs Redknap and Co. It is a mystery to me that training in the warm weather of Dubai can adequately prepare an English football club for winter matches in the north west and the midlands of England. Perhaps after the stunning acievement of one point from six, Harry can jet the pampered crew, himself, coaches, and the rest of the entourage, off to, let's say, Durban, after the Milan game and prepare for the next two league games, also against relegation strugglers. Perhaps we can look forward to another point from the six available there.
    The thing about being an English football fan of my generation is that we grew up following a club made up of managers who managed Tottenham, and players who played for Tottenham. Unfortunately, nowadays, it seems we have Tottenham managers and Tottenham players, but not managers and players of Tottenham. I think there is an ocean of difference between the two types. Those who played for Tottenham, I would suggest, are like the old fans: their loyalty was engendered by love of the club. I wish I could change my loyalty when I look at the state of things today. But I live in hope that better times will return to English football, particularly at White Hart Lane. Long after another club buys the loyalty of Harry and Co., and the likes of Palacios, Pienaar and Assou Ekoto have sold their services and concommittant loyalty to another bidder, I will be a Tottenham fan. And long after the fans of Pienaar, et al, have stopped wearing their spurs merchandise because their boy has moved on, we fans on spure in London will still be loyal.
    Good luck against Milan! Good luck you fans, that is.

  • Comment number 40.

    Milan lineup is as follows [4312]: Abbiatti, Abaze, Nesta Yepes, Antonini [Defence], Boateng, Thiag Silva, Flamini [Centre Midfield], Robinho [playmaker], Ibrahimovic, Pato [Strikers].


    Can't see Seedorf starting after his performance in the San Siro.

  • Comment number 41.

    Does anyone agree with Mark Lawrenson? admittedly the game has moved on hence why the mighty Spurs can play with no tackling players but to say Bareclona (currently) are the best team ever is just ridiculous! i mean i'm (only) 31 but i still remember the days when you could tackle! As far as I'm concerned Harry's got it right, in this day and age its all about attck and keep ball especially in europe champions league trophy and 5th place is good enough!!! comments?

  • Comment number 42.

    I think Spurs will pull it off. They seem fairly formidable at home at White Hart Lane in the Champions League and I'm sure the fans will be absolutely buzzing as they were against Inter. Can't see them failing to get through. With VDV and Bale back as well, it should be a fascinating encounter with a few goals. Can't wait to see it all play out.

    As an aside, here's an interesting article I just came across about being 'backstage' so to speak in the Champions League. Certainly sounds a bit better than sitting out in the terraces on a cold winter's night for a 0-0 draw:

    http://www.sickchirpse.com/2011/03/08/the-slatzpions-league/

  • Comment number 43.

    Cracking article Chris. Seedorf is a cool dude :) Maybe the "change of tactics" will be the Milan defenders all using motorbikes as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    Being an Inter fan and a follower of both serie a and the premier league I can honestly say that its pretty disappointing at some of the comments made here. Fair enough, Tottenham are on a terrific run and im happy for the side, but whether they can win the cup is another question. When looking at the San Siro leg I think we should look at the facts, in the first leg milan were extremely poor, but consider that they were without their Captain Ambrosini, Boateng(who has carried his WC form into the league) and Pirlo - who is undoubtedly on a par with Xavi over the past decade in his position, this is the full midfield...it was pretty inevitable that the strike force would miss their contribution, and Pirlos vision.
    Yes Zlatan has always flopped in the Champions League, but is Crouch really going to raise Baca's attention and force them to not only part with €56m and Eto'o? I think not, look at the guys statistics at Barca, pretty impressive, but I think you will find he had the same personality differences with Guardiola that Eto'o faced, therefore leading him to leave.
    I honestly think Tottenham will win tomorrow, but I think that the stereotype of Italians being the defensive sides in Europe is starting to wear thin, English sides have built their CL success on the "Catenaccio" style(look at some of Man Utds performances for e.g and Tottenhams second half performance at Milan) As for the Italian football demise since 2006 - I think its an interesting fact that post Calciopoli(lets see how many avid football fans know what this is) Italian teams have won the CL more than any other.
    I wish Tottenham all the best, im a huge fan of Bale, but I wouldnt part with a penny to bet on them winning the tournament, when they come up against a real side of the euro 'elite' they will crumble, look at their first half performance at Inter, definitely Benitez's best moment in a poor time at inter. Should they play again, I have no doubt it will be a different story.

  • Comment number 45.

    The stage is set for Ibrahimovic to finally silence the English media - I just hope this time he takes this chance (of course he did against Arsenal last year but the media ignored that). As a massive admirer of the man, even I'll admit that on the Champions League stage he needs to match the rhetoric he spouts about himself!

    I think Spurs got lucky in the first leg with their long ball play against a weakened Milan side (all the talk instead was of Spurs' weakened side). I would like to think they wouldnt be so lucky in the 2nd leg but Milan are a side that over the last 3 seasons has not taken the hint about how to defend against teams with pace. The pace in Serie A is far more suited to them, and I think against another European side with less pace they'd do better, but Tottenham definitely are the sort of team that can be a thorn in Milan's side unfortunately.

    If Milan go out, they've got nobody to blame but themselves. And Seedorf, what a guy, but he was terrible in the first leg first half surprisingly.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    I reckon tottenham should win this without too much trouble. As long as they dont sit back and let Milan come at them for 90 minutes they'll be fine. They just need to make sure they play their own game.

    Ibrahimovic will go missing as usual, i'm half Swedish and i can honestly say in every game i've seen him play for the national team he's been absolutely useless. I know this is a different level to be playing at but it seems he always dissapoints on the big stage.

    Either way i'd love to see an English team progressing to the next stage, especially playing the way Tottenham do. (was very dissapointed with Arsenal yesterday!) And as a Man Utd fan i'm not particularly hopefull of us doing well this year, just not good enough unforetunatly.

  • Comment number 48.

    I hate to say it but I think Spurs will survive a Milan onslaught tonight and creep through to the next round, probaly setting up a tie against Shakhtar. Whatever tonight's result I hope we are all talking about football tomorrow morning and not dubious refereeing decisions which seem to be plaguing football, particularly the domestic game, at the moment.

  • Comment number 49.

    "The stage is set for Ibrahimovic to finally silence the English media"

    I'll be back here after the game to see you type that again. Spurs will smash AC milan and Zlatan, as usual, will not live up to his colossus hype.

  • Comment number 50.

    Interesting that a few people are suggesting that Spurs shouldn't sit back but should play their own game (i.e. attack).
    I'm not so sure. If they play like they did against Wolves at the weekend then Milan will beat them.
    Redknapp said before the first game that Spurs would stick to their attacking game. They didn't - clever bluff by Redknapp which threw Milan on the night. Spurs played a tight, physical game which got them the win. The same is needed tonight.
    It's time for Reknapp and his players to show they have matured in Europe - this is knock-out football, not the league or group stage.
    If Spurs go all out attack: 1-2 or 0-2 to Milan.
    If Spurs play sensibly: 1-1 or 1-0 to Spurs

  • Comment number 51.

    Not one mention of Milan's disgraceful discipline at the san siro game where Gattuso should have clearly been sent off for persistent fouling and starting a confrontation off the pitch, nor of Flamini's disgraceful late and high challenge which seriously hurt Corluka, but instead of showing any remorse decided to celebrate as if he'd scored?

    Sickening antics.

  • Comment number 52.

    Does anyone else find it funny that the graphics showing the players average position during a game shows that formations are largely useless. When you see the graphics of how they line up, its all pointless really considering where they actually play.

    As for AC at WHL, weren't people saying the same about Inter, about how they would have learnt from the game at the San Siro and would be prepared for Spurs and we know how that turned out. AC will be forced to attack and with the pace of Lennon and Bale (if he is fit) then the counter attack should be devastating. Even if Bale isn't fit to start, imagine him coming off the bench when AC legs are tired in the last 15 minutes or so, he could tear them apart. I think AC will press early on, but Spurs will be such a huge threat on the counter that if AC push up like they did in the second half at the San Siro they will be punished. 2-1 Spurs I think, but then after the past few days in football and the shocking refereeing we have seen it wouldn't surprise me to see VDV get sent off for walking out on the pitch in an aggressive manner before sending off Lennon for scratching his nose.

  • Comment number 53.

    With Milan blanking in their home tie i'd be inclined to think Tottenham will and should go through.

    Its a tricky tie though, and Redknapp has to balance his side well. If they go it Milan with an overly cavalier get the game won early approach you could see Milan just picking them off. With the away goal I think Redknapp would be well served letting Milan push forward and get them on the break. For a punt at a final score i'd go 3-1 Tottenham

  • Comment number 54.

    Hmmm, the old Ibrahimovic debate!

    It's worht pointing out that his 2 goals against Arsenal were his ONLY 2 goals in the knockout stage of the CL in his whole career to date!!
    Scoring 20 goals a season doesnt make someone a quality player - I could name a very large number of avergage-good players at best, who've scored 20+goals in a season - but especially when playing for the 1st/2nd best teams in the league (Ajax, Juve, Inter, Barca, Milan).

    Now, he isnt in the average class, he is a good player, but not top class and not even close to being one of the best in the world.
    Milan signing him hasnt been the catalyst for them to win the league - Rafa Benitez was. Inter went from the best team in Europe, to their old selves in the space of 6 months thanks to Rafa.

    Anyway, enough said on him I hope, to the game:

    Spurs will have more than enough to take on a good but nothing special, aging Milan side. Particularly with the away goal in the bag. Good luck to them, and hopefully United and Chelsea can join them in the Quarter's next week too.

  • Comment number 55.

    I love Seedorf. Hope he goes into management when he retires. I'd love to see him manage a club over here in the PL.

  • Comment number 56.

    #55 and a number of others. Too true, what a legend. On eo fth ebest midfielder's of my generation, and funnily enough my best memory of him was his performance against United in their 3-0 win against us at the San Siro. An absolute masterclass in how to play the perfectly balanced midfiled role defensively and offensively. Only topped by Roy keane against Juventus in '99.

  • Comment number 57.

    1-2 to Milan. Through on away goals. YHIHF.

  • Comment number 58.

    Expect a tempo and intensity from Spurs to unsettle the Milan defence along with Crouch's height with unsuing runners like VDV and the returning Jenas.

    http://www.suite101.com/content/tottenham-v-ac-milan---2nd-leg-preview-a357131

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think Milan will sneak this with a moody pen in the last minute or something. They have nothing to loose!

  • Comment number 61.

    p.s. seedorf - what a player... what a legend. the whole generation of Dutch players of the turn of the millennium seedorf, davids, stam, bergkamp, overmars, kluivert, cocu, all top quality!

  • Comment number 62.

    agree with Desperate_Dan; it's always good to see an active footballer so deeply conscious of tactical subtleties. Think Seedorf should/will make a solid manager one day.

  • Comment number 63.

    All very interesting and good luck to Spurs tonight but not sure where the post Arsenal Vs Barca blog is? There is also a total lack of links to 606 pages. Following the RVP sending off (harsh but within the rules), have the Beeb anticipated a deluge of comments from irate gooners and decided to steer well clear?

  • Comment number 64.

    63. At 3:50pm on 09 Mar 2011, whatbill wrote:
    All very interesting and good luck to Spurs tonight but not sure where the post Arsenal Vs Barca blog is? There is also a total lack of links to 606 pages. Following the RVP sending off (harsh but within the rules), have the Beeb anticipated a deluge of comments from irate gooners and decided to steer well clear?


    ------------------------------

    They've stopped linking match article to 606 threads now. Same with the blogs. Laughable decision.

  • Comment number 65.

    #63 - Yes, I see 606 will finish at the end of the season due to budget cuts. Not sure about the blogs though, hope they're not planning to get rid of them also (I prefer them to 606) and are stopping linking articles to them to reduce their importance?

  • Comment number 66.


    65. At 4:30pm on 09 Mar 2011, whatbill wrote:

    #63 - Yes, I see 606 will finish at the end of the season due to budget cuts. Not sure about the blogs though, hope they're not planning to get rid of them also (I prefer them to 606) and are stopping linking articles to them to reduce their importance?

    ---------------

    Its all designed to slowly wean users off 606. I prefer 606 to these blogs. The format makes it easy to debate with someone. Each to their own I guess.

    I think these blogs are here to stay, Not that I read them.

  • Comment number 67.

    I liked 606 but the threads did/does tend to degenerate into a big 4 slanging match - I remember 1 Gerrard Vs Lampard thread that went on for ever.

  • Comment number 68.

    67. At 4:43pm on 09 Mar 2011, whatbill wrote:

    I liked 606 but the threads did/does tend to degenerate into a big 4 slanging match - I remember 1 Gerrard Vs Lampard thread that went on for ever.
    =================================================

    Haha. There hasnt been one recently. I should fire one up before 606 closes :) Anyway Lampard vs Gerrard is so 2010. Its all about the Wilshere vs Mceachran threads now.

  • Comment number 69.

    Thanks for all your comments so far. Like a lot of you I am looking forward to seeing whether Ibrahimovic can deliver tonight... not to mention Robinho too. Temperamental and inconsistent players, the pair of them, but undoubtedly top quality on their day (or night) too and potential matchwinners.

    This tie is finely balanced so a lot will come down to the tactical approach of the respective managers. In terms of the merits of their respective players, I don't think there is much between them. As Seedorf said when I was talking to him about the likes of Bale and Lennon - "We will respect all their players who can make a difference to the game but Spurs will have to keep an eye on our players too."

    He talked about Milan having "enough individual quality" but admitted the team overall isn't as strong as it was in, say, 2004/05 under Ancelotti.

    In terms of Allegri's 4-3-1-2 formation in comparison to some of the other coaches he has played under (Hiddink, Capello, Van Gaal, Ancelotti, Eriksson etc, it's a long list of quality names!), he said: "It is important to have a clear way of playing and that there are no doubts when you go on the pitch about your job. But most of the time, coaches adapt their playing system to the resources - ie the players - they have rather than the other way round."

    More to come from Seedorf next week, talking more generally about the Champions League and how European football has changed in the last 18 years or so that he has been on the scene...

  • Comment number 70.

    nice piece chris
    when did he play for eriksson? was that at sampdoria?

  • Comment number 71.

    Should be good tonight. Both teams are very good. I think AC Milan are still slight favourites for this match.

  • Comment number 72.

    70/ Yep, Seedorf played under Eriksson at Sampdoria. I forgot to add Lippi to that list too...

    He's played in some great teams in that time too, but says Milan of 2004/05 under Ancelotti played the best football - he compared them to Barcelona in present day - but more on that next week.

  • Comment number 73.

    Chris.

    Why wasnt there an Arsenal blog to discuss last nights events

  • Comment number 74.

    I feel Spurs will overrun AC Milan this evening and, if it happens, it will be a great pleasure for me. With Flamini injurying Corluka and, more or less, saying he'd do it again and Gattuso headbutting Jordan, Milan don't deserve to go any further, in my book. Nevertheless, they're too slow as a team to cause trouble to Spurs. Good luck.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 73 Mr Chelsea,

    with 25% possession, approximately, 0 shots on target, 0 shots off target, 0 shots blocked and only 40% succeeded tackles (does this mean the rest of the tackles found legs??), plus at least one penalty not given to Barcelona, I have to agree Arsenal comments referring to unfair refereeing would make an interesting reading - especially as I remember the Messi goal unfairly judged offside at the Emirates, with Messi being two yards onside. :)

  • Comment number 76.

    @Football UK

    Its always nice to see what the goonies would have come out with. No doubt they would have blamed the sending off which I thought was a joke by the way.

    Seriously I must have got up for a cup of coffee when this onside Messi goal went in. I missed it.

    There'll probably be a Spurs blog tomorrow.

  • Comment number 77.

    76, Mr Chelsea,

    The sending off was a joke but it was a poorly hidden way to hide time wasting. Arsenal had 11 players for 56 minutes by then and still had 0 attempts of any sort of a shot. On the first yellow van Persie received, I listened to the commentator saying 'his fingernails had found Alvez's eye - accidentally'.

    The goal not given was in the first match. The penalty not given to Messi, many say was blatant. The most worrying statistic, though, is 40% successful tackles, as Arsenal start overdoing it as tough men this season.

  • Comment number 78.

    Football UK

    Wenger tried parking the bus like we did back in 2009? Doesnt he know the capabilites of his own side. We parked the bus because we had a rock solid defence. Even in that match I think Ashley Cole was missing from our back 4 and I think Bosingwa played LB. Arsenals strength is not defending! Amount of times Alves ran past Clichy. It was embarassing.

  • Comment number 79.

    Mr Chelsea,

    I wanted to see them through. With Barcelona out of the way, the stakes are higher for everyone else. But I couldn't agree more.

  • Comment number 80.

    Message from the Arsenal camp. GL tonight and i hope you lot make it through (sure you'll have no problems).

    I can see Milan's ancient team running out of gas badly in the last 20 mins and Spurs scoring 3 or 4 goals.

  • Comment number 81.

    Ibrahimovic just disappeared again - real shocker. Well done Spurs but they'll get found out against someone like Barca, or even Chelsea and MU.

 

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