Tottenham v Milan preview
One of the biggest nights in Tottenham's history lies ahead as AC Milan travel to White Hart Lane for the second leg of their last-16 tie.
Last Updated: 09/03/11 9:40pm
One of the biggest nights in Tottenham's history lies ahead as AC Milan travel to White Hart Lane for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie.
Arsenal may have surrendered a winning position to bow out of Europe at the hands of tournament favourites Barcelona on Tuesday evening, but Spurs have home advantage against Milan and an away goal in the bag after winning 1-0 at the San Siro last month.
Harry Redknapp's men earned plaudits for their organised, professional approach in Italy, where Peter Crouch netted a potentially decisive late strike following a lightning break from Aaron Lennon.
Milan were not quite so disciplined, with Mathieu Flamini lucky to avoid being sent off for a wild challenge on Vedran Corluka and Gennaro Gattuso confronting assistant Tottenham coach Joe Jordan at the final whistle.
These fiery incidents have only added spice to the return leg at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, when Spurs will be looking to finish the job and progress through to the quarter-finals.
There is sure to be an electrifying atmosphere and Redknapp has vowed to stay true to his attacking instincts, which were clearly on display in the 3-3 Premier League draw against Wolves at the weekend.
Jermain Defoe scored twice and Roman Pavlyuchenko grabbed the other at Molineux, but there were again defensive concerns as Spurs shipped three goals for the second successive game.
A defeat to Blackpool in their only other outing since the first leg effectively ended Tottenham's domestic title chances, while the Wolves draw further damaged their hopes of finishing fourth and qualifying for the next edition of the Champions League.
There was some good news at least from the clash with Wolves as Gareth Bale made his return from a back injury with a lively cameo as a substitute.
The Welshman has felt some stiffness in the legs over the past couple of days and is not guaranteed to start against Milan, but his presence in the squad will give the Serie A leaders plenty to ponder.
Bale produced his two most blistering performances of the season against Milan's local rivals Inter in the group phase, scoring a stunning hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat at the Giuseppe Meazza before inspiring Spurs to victory in London.
Rafael van der Vaart is also available after recovering from a calf problem and is likely to start in support of a lone striker.
Crouch could get the nod to lead the line despite the goalscoring displays of Defoe and Pavlyuchenko at the weekend, while Lennon is also likely to be recalled to the starting line-up.
Corluka has overcome the ankle injury he sustained in the challenge with Flamini and could replace Alan Hutton at right-back.
If Corluka is selected he will once again come into direct competition with former Arsenal player Flamini, who has hit back at Redknapp for criticism of his conduct in the first leg.
The other controversial figure from the San Siro, Gattuso, begins a five-match European suspension following his furious bust-up with Jordan.
He had already picked up a yellow card in the first leg that would have ruled him out of the trip to England, before the touchline altercation resulted in an extra four-game sentence being handed down by Uefa.
As well as Gattuso, Milan will be without the injured duo of Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini.
Massimiliano Allegri still has a formidable array of attacking talent at his disposal, including Alexandre Pato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and former Manchester City striker Robinho.
The Rossoneri have won three matches in a row since the first leg, most recently beating Juventus 1-0 on Saturday, to tighten their grip on top spot in Italy.