LONDON - Real Madrid should complete the
formality of eliminating Tottenham Hotspur from the Champions
League on Wednesday to set up a probable semi-final against
Real travel to White Hart Lane brimming with confidence
after demolishing Spurs 4-0 in the first leg of their
quarter-final last week, while Barca go to Shakhtar Donetsk in
Ukraine 5-1 up.
Barring the most unlikely of events, Real and Barca will
meet each other in European competition for the first time since
Real coach Jose Mourinho, publicly at least, has paid Spurs
and English football the greatest respect by saying only an
English team could overturn a four-goal deficit.
If that is true, then that club are Spurs, who have dazzled
in their debut season in the Champions League with some stunning
fightbacks and re-kindled a flickering light from the past.
After Manchester United, Spurs were English soccer's
trailblazers in Europe in the early 1960s when they became the
first British side to win a European trophy, beating Atletico
Madrid 5-1 in the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1963.
A year earlier Spurs reached the semi-finals of the European
Cup when their manager Bill Nicholson, paying his respects to
the all-conquering Real team of Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc
Puskas, decided his team should change to an all-white kit for
Real, some years later, became the first away team in 24
years ever to win a European tie at White Hart Lane when they
beat holders Spurs 1-0 in the UEFA Cup in 1985 - and are easily
equipped to score another win on Wednesday.
However, although Spurs are almost certain to go out, they
will not go down without showing the spirit that has been a
feature of their Champions League adventure which ended almost
before it started back in August.
Spurs were 3-0 down after 28 minutes of the first leg of
their qualifying play-off against Young Boys in Berne before
losing 3-2 and then qualifying for the group stage with a 4-0
win in the second leg in London.
In the group stage they were losing 4-0 at halftime to
holders Inter Milan before a Gareth Bale hat-trick in the second
half pulled the score back to 4-3. Spurs then beat Inter 3-1 in
the return in London.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said: "It has been a great
experience so far and I am sure it will be a great experience on
Wednesday. We will give it our best shot and see what happens."
They will have to do that without striker Peter Crouch, sent
off last week, while Real Madrid will be without the suspended
Mourinho, though, can also call on Karim Benzema in attack
after his recovery from an injury he suffered playing for
France, and he could replace Emmanuel Adebayor, whose two
headers last week set Real on their way to their emphatic win.
Tottenham Hotspur: 1-Heurelho Gomes; 32-Benoit Assou-Ekotto,
4-Younes Kaboul, 20-Michael Dawson, 22-Vedran Corluka; 3-Gareth
Bale, 14-Luka Modric, 8-Jermaine Jenas, 11-Rafael van der Vaart;
18-Jermain Defoe, 9-Roman Pavlyuchenko
Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 4-Sergio Ramos, 18-Raul
Albiol, 2-Ricardo Carvalho, 12-Marcelo; 14-Xabi Alonso, 24-Sami
Khedira; 22-Angel Di Maria, 23-Mesut Ozil, 7-Cristiano Ronaldo;
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
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