Real Madrid v Spurs preview
Tottenham's fairytale Champions League campaign continues, with the Bernabeu providing the setting.
Last Updated: 05/04/11 7:01pm
Tottenham's fairytale UEFA Champions League campaign continues as the Santiago Bernabeu provides the setting for one of the biggest nights in their history.
Spurs have scripted a remarkable story on their maiden voyage in Europe's premier club competition, having defied the odds just to finish fourth in the Premier League last season.
An early exit loomed large after falling 3-0 behind to Young Boys in the play-off round way back in August, but from that moment on there have been considerably more highs than lows on a rollercoaster ride for supporters.
Having finished above Inter Milan, FC Twente and Werder Bremen in the group phase, Spurs overcame AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate in the last 16.
The draw for the quarter-finals pitted Tottenham against the mighty Real Madrid but, despite being underdogs, Harry Redknapp has taken his men to the Spanish capital with no fear.
Peter Crouch's away goal at the San Siro proved decisive in the previous round and Spurs will be aiming for similar heroics in Tuesday's first leg at the Bernabeu.
Recent form suggests victory is unlikely, with Tottenham having not won since that famous night in Italy and failed to score in virtually a month.
Some observers have argued that they are running out of steam after such an exhausting campaign, with injuries taking their toll on Redknapp's squad and those players that remain fit struggling for freshness.
Tottenham's bid for a second straight top-four finish has certainly suffered a setback, following back-to-back goalless draws in the Premier League.
A more optimistic outlook, however, would be to consider the three consecutive clean sheets Spurs have kept as an encouraging sign going into such a tough away game.
If the Londoners can shut out Real it would give them a massive opportunity to finish the job in front of their own fans at White Hart Lane in the return leg next Wednesday.
The biggest boost ahead of kick-off is Gareth Bale's availability, the Welsh winger having returned to fitness after picking up a hamstring strain during the international break.
Bale has shown already this season, most memorably in the two clashes with Inter, that he has the ability to terrorise even the best defences on the continent and it is no surprise that Redknapp has moved quickly to play down talk of a mega-money move abroad.
One player to have recently signed a contract extension with the club, William Gallas, is also back in contention to face Real following a hamstring injury of his own.
Redknapp's injury crisis remains so severe that he may only be able to name six substitutes rather than seven, with Steven Pienaar, Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Younes Kaboul all sidelined and Niko Kranjcar struggling with a foot problem.
The starting XI is likely to be full-strength, though, with Rafael van der Vaart set to line up against his former club in a supporting role behind Crouch.
Aaron Lennon and Bale are expected to be joined in midfield by Luka Modric and Sandro, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes shielded by a back four of Vedran Corluka, Gallas, Michael Dawson and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Tottenham's spirits may also have been lifted by the fact that Real Madrid suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Sporting Gijon on Saturday, a first home league defeat in more than nine years for manager Jose Mourinho.
Real's record at the Bernabeu has otherwise been exemplary, and the Champions League will definitely be Mourinho's priority now after admitting the Primera Liga title is slipping out of reach.
Los Blancos have won all four of their European home games this season without conceding a goal, having swept aside Lyon 3-0 in the previous round following a 1-1 draw in France.
While Tottenham are boosted by having Bale back, Mourinho will also be able to call on his own star man after Cristiano Ronaldo was named in the Real squad.
The Portugal international missed the defeat to Sporting Gijon with a hamstring injury and had been expected to sit out the visit of Tottenham, but he came through training unscathed on Monday and Mourinho is set to take what he admits is a risk.
Gonzalo Higuain has also been included in the squad after making a successful return from back surgery at the weekend.
Marcelo (bruised rib) trained on Monday, and though Angel di María did not, the winger has been included in the squad along with Kaka (knee).
However, Karim Benzema is missing after the striker picked up a hamstring injury on international duty with France last week.
Midfield duo Fernando Gago and Pedro Leon are also unavailable through injury, while Raul Albiol and Sergio Canales have been left out of the squad.