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Champions League Quarter final Second leg

Wednesday 13th April 2011

So, with a disastrous 0-4 beating in the Bernabeu behind us, what hope is there for Tottenham in this second leg against Real Madrid ?

Realistically, not a lot of hope, with the sending off of Peter Crouch leaving the ten remaining Spurs players to sweat out 75 minutes chasing the ball.  But it might be interesting to see how Tottenham get on against them with 11 players and the ones they wanted to start with in Spain (albeit without the suspended Crouch this time).

Harry will want to salvage some confidence and credibility after such a good first season in the Champions League and to do that he must send a team out to show Real that they might have won comfortably in the first leg, but it might have been very different.

It will not be easy with Mourinho having a good record at the Lane with Chelsea, but the fact that they face Barcelona twice in domestic competition (league and cup) in quick succession and then a possible two legged semi-final in this competition against the, the boss is likely to rest a number of his squad.

For Tottenham, the result can give a boost to the remainder of the league programme with a win against Real showing them they can match the top sides and that the home league matches can be put into a run to take them into the top four.

What they need to do is to get after Real down the flanks and defend with great concentration to make sure we don't get caught on the break like we did on Saturday against Stoke City.  It will be a more patient game, with Real holding onto possession and not giving it away like the Potters did, so the need for Tottenham to hold onto the ball will be paramount.

Real will have Benzema back, with Higuain also champing at the bit to get a chance to show what he can do now he is restored to full fitness, so there will be competition for places for coming games, while Spurs will need to put in a lot of effort to match the movement of the Real stars.  Kaka played and scored twice on Saturday for Madrid and may feature in the middle of midfield, pulling the strings from there with his astute passing.

Perhaps the heart of the Real Madrid defence might be their soft centre, with Carvalho experienced, but slow and Pepe missing, there may be a chance for Tottenham to get at them through this area and we saw on Saturday, the intricate passing can open defences up, although how Rafael van der Vaart's place nominally on the right of midfield will shape up in the second leg against Real will be interesting to see.

For all the egg that was left on Tottenham's face after the first game, they battled defiantly for the majority of the 75 minutes when left with a man short (although referring to Crouch like that doesn't sound right), they did emerge with a little credit and the players gave everything.

They will need to be prepared to do so again, with their next league game a week away to get over it.  While I think Real will be looking to win and go into their coming fixtures with confidence, I think Tottenham will come through, although they need to be focused enough to cancel out the Madrid breakaways ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    2      Real Madrid    1


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Wilson Palacios (out - knee); Ledley King (out - groin); Niko Kranjcar (doubtful - foot); Alan Hutton (out - knee); Aaron Lennon (doubtful - illness); Peter Crouch (out - suspended); Vedran Corluka (doubtful - ankle); Steven Pienaar (hopeful - groin); - (-); 

REAL MADRID :  -  Pepe (out - suspended); Pedro Leon (out - knee); Fernando Gago (out - groin); Lassana Diarra (out - hip); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   0    Real Madrid   1      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Wednesday 13th April 2011
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   34,326
Referee :  Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Real Madrid kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Chilly, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32   Assou-Ekotto
20   Dawson (c)
13   Gallas
22   Corluka

  7  Lennon (18  Defoe 60)
14  Modric (21  Kranjcar 83)
  6  Huddlestone (30  Sandro 71)
  3  Bale

11  van der Vaart

  9  Pavlyuchenko

Unused subs: 
20   Dawson (c)
13   Gallas
22   Corluka 

Real Madrid :

  1  Casillas (c)

  4  Sergio Ramos  (11  Granero 57     )
18  Albiol
  2  Carvalho     
17  Arbeloa

12  Marcelo
14  Alonso
  Ozil  (  9  Benzema 75)

  7  Ronaldo    (  8  Kaka 65)
28  Adebayor

Unused subs: 
13  Adan

19  Garay
  Di Maria

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Real Madrid
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur


Real Madrid

Ronaldo 50

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




Real Madrid

Carvalho (foul)  39
Granero (foul)  59 


Match Report : -  
Following Peter Crouchís first leg impression of Paul Gascoigne, the very same man was in the stands to watch on as Heurelho Gomes did another Spurs old boy impression, as he let a 20 yard shot from Ronaldo slip through his fingers a la Ray Clemence v Barcelona in 1983 and with it any faint glimmer of a shred of a chance that we might get something out of the game.  And thus went our Champions League campaign in an instant. 

To be honest, the way that Real started the match showed they meant business.  Closing Spurs down, holding onto possession of the ball with smooth passing and attacking intent there was little chance for Tottenham to get into the game early on.  Spurs had to wait for 25 minutes for a shot on target and although there had been shouts for three penalties in a first half when Spurs looked for a breakthrough to give them an opportunity to pressurise the visiting Madrid side. 

Firstly, Gareth Bale ripped past Arbeloa and was upended, but the Italian referee decided he had dived (but didnít book him, then Luka Modric was bundled over by Xavi Alonso in what looked like a stonewall pen, but once more, play was waved on.  On the third occasion, Roman Pavlyuchenko got to a low near post cross by Bale and was knocked over by Albiol, who didn't seem to make much contact with the ball. 

It was hard to tell from the other side of the halfway line in the East Lower, but the Modric one looked the best shout. 

Ironically, Casillas was only tested when we slung crosses into the box and he looked decidedly uncomfortable; trying to punch away, but often doing so less effectively than Gomes does.  He also didnít seem to want to hold on to low shots, preferring to palm them out, but luckily for him, not to a Spurs player.  That also served him well with his kicking, which didnít get much off the floor or go too far, but avoided finding a white shirt.

Spurs had to work hard and with Tom Huddlestone's passing a little off target following his lay-off, it was tough to hold onto the ball, especially with Lennon's every turn past a Real defender met with a body check and with Bale being doubled up on as soon as it looked like he might get the ball.  It was a typical Mourinho side's performance.  Digging in when they needed to and trying to hit on the break.  But Real have the comfort on the ball that perhaps some of his previous side's lacked.

When Spurs finally got Lennon away and past his marker on the right, he pulled the ball back low to Pavlyuchenko on the near post, about 10 yards out and the Russian striker got right under his shot and the ball sailed way over the bar.  Pav did better just before half-time, with a low drive that Casillas palmed away unconvincingly.  The only other chances that came Tottenham's way were one Bale long throw that fell at Hud's feet at the near post and he wanted to back-heel it in, but the close attention of a defender made him turn and put his shot into the side netting and the other a disallowed goal by Bale from a well-worked move.  Roman dug out a dinked ball into the middle of the penalty area from a fairly straight position and Modric rose to head it back into the path of Gareth Bale, who hit a crisp volley that flew past the keeper and hit the net, only for Modric to be flagged offside eight minutes before half time.

In between, Gomes had to be quick on his feet to stretch and reach a Sergio Ramos header from a corner taken by Ozil and palm it out near the angle of post and bar, with the ball unfortunately dropping to Adebayor, but he could only thrash it into the side-netting from close range.

As the first half had seen Ronaldo rolling around in agony after Benoit Assou-Ekotto had won an aerial duel with him, but had also stuck his foot into the former Manchester United man's sizeable backside, the second half also featured the prima donna within five minutes of it's kick-off.  Taking the ball from a team-mate and outside the box, he took aim and hit a shot at goal as he had done so often in this tie.  It is not hard to see how he has scored 41 times this season, as he must have had a million shots at this rate.  Anyway, it looked like he had fired another dud and Gomes took the ball at head height ... or so we thought, until we saw him let the ball pass through his hands and it drop agonisingly behind him into the net. 

At 0-4 down from the first leg, it wasn't perhaps the most crucial error he might have made, but the fact that we had reached 50 minutes without scoring ourselves was the major factor in no comeback being even whispered about.  No goals in three Champions League games followed our league record of not being able to hit the net with regularity this season.

Pav had a free header from VDV's corner that landed on the top of the net, when perhaps he should have got over it a bit more and hit the target and within a couple of minutes of Jermain Defoe entering the play as a 60th minute substitute, he hit a typical no-back-lift shot that had Casillas diving full length to push away to his right.

With 25 minutes left to play, it looked as though this game was up, with substitute Kaka playing a deft pass through the middle of the Tottenham defence for Khedira to run onto, but as he bore down on Gomes, Assou-Ekotto did enough to put him off and the ball ran on to the keeper, as the German midfielder hit the turf.  Moments later, Real's Brazilian midfielder also brought a good low diving save from Gomes, as his curling shot must have been seen late by the goalie and he managed to get down to his left to get enough of a hand on it to take it wide. 

Then Spurs almost got level when a deep corner from van der Vaart went beyond the flapping Casillas and Defoe was beyond the far post, but got a header on it that hit the outside of the post and bounced out. 

The last chance for Tottenham came in the 87th minute, with Corluka linking with Sandro down the right, with the midfielder dragging a low ball back to van der Vaart just outside the box.  The Dutchman shifted the ball to make space for himself and lose the defender in front of him, to curl a shot that went over the keeper, but also went over the bar and hit the top of the netting on the way through.  Another opportunity passed without fully testing Casillas.

When Granero put a late free-kick in more or less the same place, the game came to a close, with both teams greeting each other and swapping shirts, before the Spurs team got a very warm round of applause for their efforts in the club's maiden Champions League campaign.

There have been highs and lows and some moments we will never forget, but perhaps we should, in time forget them, as long as the club continues the momentum built up to maintain a push for this sort of football season after season.  No club has a given right to expect it and the efforts of last season showed this team is capable of playing at this level, really only looking out of place when down to 10 men at the Bernabeu.

But over the two legs we met a team the likes of which we have never encountered before.  A side who stroke the ball about and don't belt the ball at team-mates.  A team who work hard to close the opposition down and are not afraid to show a typically cynical Continental side to their game.  A team who have the utmost belief in what they are doing is right and will see them through.  Spurs are still finding it a bit of a surprise they have got to where they are now.

Some of the Tottenham players showed they can live with the likes of Kaka, Ronaldo and Ozil.  Others were not quite up to the task for a variety of reasons and those positions are the ones that Harry will look to strengthen for next season.  Whether he has the participation in the Champions League to sell it to new signings will depend on the outcome of our final seven games.  The side should take heart from this performance and while Real were four up before they had even kicked off, the team looked like they wanted it and Spurs matched them in most areas of the play, but the technique of their play is totally anathema to us and one we will not be able to replicate, because the Premier League style will not allow it.

We hear so much about the next level, but I am not sure what that will be for Spurs.  Would it be regular top four contenders or developing a style that would make it more difficult for other English (and continental) sides to play against ?  The latter may have to wait, but the former should give the players the hunger to get back to playing the likes of Real, AC and Inter Milan again.

Alan Mitchison


Fan Reaction : -







Other quarter final first leg scores :
Manchester United  [Won 3-1 on agg.] 2 Chelsea 1 Tuesday
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) 0 Barcelona (Spain)  [Won 6-1 on agg.] 1 Tuesday
Schalke 04 (Germany)  [Won 7-3 on agg.] 2 Internazionale (Italy) 1 Wednesday



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