With the 1st leg comfortable in the bag at a 4-0 scoreline, the tie looks dead and buried. But like Mourinho, Alonso and Zidane yesterday, let’s respect Spurs and have the game set for sure before getting all excited about a semi final with Barcelona. To hear from the side of a Spurs fan, Willie Gannon, football writer at Back Page Football was kind enough to answer some of the questions put together to prepare for the 2nd leg. Enjoy!
Tanuj: Where do you think Harry Redknapp went wrong in the 1st leg?
Willie: To be honest, I think Redknapp let the situation get to both himself and the team. To me Spurs looked overawed to be playing against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu and seemed to play like this was their final. I wouldn’t really pick holes in the starting XI though. Lennon pulling out at the last moment was unfortunate and Crouch’s sending off practically destroyed any little game-plan they actually had.
I’m not sure what the thinking was in Bale originally starting on the right, it’s ridiculous really. All the problems he has caused teams this year have come when he was bombing down the left and I don’t really go for wide players who have to cut in. Against a formation like 4-2-3-1 it is just asking for trouble as you are condensing the play inside where your opponent is strongest.
Just look at what they did to Inter Milan when they attacked out wide and if Real have weaknesses then it is in the very same positions, full back.
Jenas picking up Adebayor is another mystery. It’s not like ‘Arry has never heard of him or knows nothing about him so why Dawson did not mark him for set-pieces is a real strange one. Jenas is not really regarded as being strong in the air either and Lennon definitely would not have marked him either so I think questions have to be asked there.
Other than that, I don’t really see what Redknapp could have done. 1-0 behind and down to ten men after 15 minutes… Very few teams would have recovered from that. But I do think basic errors particularly in defence were the reason behind the 4-0.
Tanuj: If you were in harry’s shoes, what would you change for the second leg?
Willie: Spurs are in a funny position here. the game is as good as over. I don’t think a Jose Mourinho team has ever lost by four or five goals and it took him nine years to lose his unbeaten home record so Spurs should realistically give up any chance of qualifying.
Saying that, pride is a very powerful motivator and the power of momentum should not be under estimated.
This is something that both managers will be instilling in their team as we head towards the game. The result is not important for either team now but and the manner of the performance is all that matters. Spurs need to play well as they head towards important fixtures that could see them qualify for the Champions League again next year. While Mourinho will want his team to start from where they left off against Spurs in the first leg.
Knowing that Barcelona will not be caught is of huge importance and Jose will have his team drilled not to lose so the momentum they built up last week does not go for nothing. I’d expect a draw with Spurs going all out for around 60 minutes before both teams settle on it.
If I was in Harry’s shoes there is not very much you actually can do. He either goes with Defoe or Pavlyuchenko up top with van der Vaart in behind. Personally I’d o with Pav, he’s a better partner for VDV and will provide the least amount of tactical changes to the team.
Bale on the left, Modric and Huddlestone through the middle with Pienaar or Lennon out wide. Pienaar would be my pick as he is technically better, works harder, and is more creative but I could understand the wish to o with Lennon, who really needs a good performance to answer his many critics after not playing last week.
The defence really picks itself and from there I would be urging the team to get the ball wide as quick as possible to exploit Marcelo and Ramos. Man mark Alonso to cut off the supply lines and make sure that everyone does the basics right. If thy can achieve that much then they should do ok.
Tanuj: With crouch missing now for second leg, who would you start upfront? Why?
Willie: As already mentioned I’d go with Pavlyuchenko. Defoe is a poacher supreme and his link up play is pretty average and contributes little. He usually plays off the shoulder of the last defender and relies heavily on his pace to get onto through balls. Madrid will probably sit fairly deeply so that tactic would be null and anyway Carvalho is too good to be caught out with basic play like that.
I’d use Pavlyuchenko to bring Bale, Pienaar, van der Vaart and Modric into the game whereas Defoe would be unable to do so.
Tanuj: How did Spurs fare on the weekend with their 3-2 victory in the league v Stoke City?
Willie: It was a good victory. Spurs were deserved winners and dominated the game for the vast majority but as usual they fell asleep at crucial times and allowed Stoke to get back into the game. They really have to start learning and after doing pretty much the same thing for the last two years one has to wonder about the football culture at the club and why this always seems to happen.
No doubting that they have improved under Redknapp but as professional players they should be looking for perfection and I just don’t see that in this team.
Tanuj: With the aggregate score at 4-0, do you think spurs could pull a comeback?
Willie: Not a chance in hell, they’d be doing well to win 1-0. I think the game has a draw written all over it.