A special one-two
Thommo says Spurs will have to overcome a first-leg defeat, but expects them to edge out Real... and Jose.
Last Updated: 05/04/11 2:56pm
I have a sneaky feeling Tottenham will get past Real Madrid over the two legs.
That was my gut feeling when the draw was first made and although Harry Redknapp has got plenty of problems in terms of who is fit and who isn't, I've seen nothing to change my mind.
Of course, last time against AC Milan they did the business away from home, but I think it will be much tougher in the Bernabeu and will come down to what happens at White Hart Lane. And getting the second leg at home is vital - it couldn't have worked out better for them in that respect.
For that reason alone, if I were Harry I would not risk Gareth Bale. I know his pace is important on the counter attack, but you really want him on his game, fully fit, flying at them in the home game.
It is the same, if you like, problem that Jose Mourinho has with Cristiano Ronaldo, who I think will play if there's any chance he will be anything like fit.
With seven points between them you have to say Real are unlikely to catch Barcelona in La Liga, so this represents their one chance of a major trophy and Mourinho will want to get a lead to take to England.
That means Ronaldo playing, even if it is a gamble. It's a blow for them that Karim Benzema is out because he had found some goalscoring form, but while everybody was talking about Mourinho losing that long unbeaten home record against Sporting Gijon, it was important to see Gonzalo Higuain come on for the last half-an-hour.
Between them, he and Ronaldo will have to provide the goal threat in the first leg because as well as wanting a lead, Mourinho will be looking for a response to that defeat at the weekend.
Looking down their teamsheet, it looks as if they had one eye on this game, so other than denting the manager's confidence - if anything can - I don't expect it to have too much bearing on Tuesday night.
I watched Tottenham take on Wigan on Soccer Saturday and the one big plus for them was that Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong looked pretty solid together. Ok, Wigan are nowhere near Real Madrid, but it will be important they are comfortable as a pairing, because there are going to be times when Spurs are put under pressure and have to defend.
They might find themselves up against Emmanuel Adebayor in that central role because right now he is the obvious answer and also, he will have a big part to play in set-pieces - and defending them.
When you get this far, it can be something like that that makes the difference and if Peter Crouch plays, Spurs should look to hit him at every opportunity.
If I were Crouchie and Harry, I would be looking for long diagonal balls from the word go and I would make sure the referee is made aware of what Ricardo Carvalho is doing.
There's no doubt he would rather stand up and go toe-to-toe with Crouch than try and mark someone like Jermain Defoe, but when he was in the Premier League he would man-handle strikers at the best of times - and now he's a year older and a year slower!
It speaks volumes for what Harry has done at Spurs when you look at these two teams because there really isn't much to choose between them. That's what makes this first leg so important because I think it will boil down to who makes the most of home advantage.
As much as they can worry Real Madrid, Spurs have to make sure they are organised and defend properly. That means Sandro - who, by the way, I have been hugely impressed with - and those other central midfielders making sure they keep Mesut Ozil as quiet as they can; he started slowly at Real but has got better and better and works perfectly with Xabi Alonso just sitting in behind.
That central midfield area will be vital because both sides possess real quality and real match-winners in there. As good as Osil is, Rafael van der Vaart and Luca Modric can influence the game just as well over the two legs, even though Tuesday night might be more about defensive discipline and organisation.
When Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005, they weren't a great team by anyone's standards - they were actually better when they lost the final two years later - but they had shape, commitment and they knew what they had to do.
If Harry can instil that into his side then I see no reason why they can't go a lot further in the Champions League, I really don't.
THOMMO'S CALL - There are a lot of problems for Harry to deal with and it will be interesting to see who is fit and what formation he plays, but over the two legs, I do think they have enough to get through. This will be the acid test, not just because they are away, but because he'll have some big decisions to make before a ball has even been kicked. I do think Real have got goals in them, even though they failed to score against Sporting, but so have Spurs; I can see this ending up 2-1 to Real Madrid. But, I am going to be very brash here and say Spurs will turn that round at the Lane and go through!