- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On March 9, 2011
- 1 Comments
- 2010/11 UCL, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Tottenham vs AC Milan from White Hart Lane, London (Tottenham lead 1-0 on agg.)
In what was a very dramatic first leg for not only the football that was played, but also the handbags that took place at the end of the match, sets up a great platform for how this second leg will turn out. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp says his team will go out and attack from the start and will not sit on the 1-0 aggregate lead they picked up a fortnight ago. He feels with Milan having to come to north London to win, they should be open at the back, and Spurs clearly know how to score goals with the level of players on their roster. One problem is they’ve also conceded a fair few so the defense will have to be tighter against the likes of Milan’s forwards.
For the visitors, manager Massimiliano Allegri got a great boost by beating rivals Juventus in Turin over the weekend 1-0, although the player who scored the winning goal will be serving the first of a five match suspension, Gennaro Gattuso. With Gattuso missing, most see it as a big loss for the side, but in reality Milan do have a lot of depth in that position, and he is not nearly as important to Milan as Gareth Bale is to Tottenham. With Roma going out yesterday, the pressure will be on Milan to try and stop the bleeding for Italian sides in this competition, and of course city rivals Inter are still to complete their tie against Bayern Munich next week.
Injury concerns for the hosts are Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart and Vedran Corluka who both should be available for selection. Welsh winger Gareth Bale is still a question mark for Redknapp and is classed as touch and go. Jermaine Jenas is now available after missing the first leg through suspension. For Milan, injuries are much more of a concern, although Allegri says the only question mark is over Kevin-Prince Boateng whether to play him in the center or out wide. Luca Antonini, Boateng, Mathieu Flamini, and Gianluca Zambrotta are all one yellow card away from suspension, and of course Gattuso is suspended.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Milan (Tottenham win 3-2 on aggregate)
Schalke vs Valencia from the Arena Aufschalke, Gelsenkirchen (1-1 on agg.)
Schalke manager Felix Magath has stated that it’s far too risky to play for a 0-0 draw that would essentially see the hosts go through on the away goals rule. The key with anything is trying to find the right balance. In his mind, Valencia are weak at the back, so expect Schalke to go out looking to score in the first half, but being patient. In all, this has the makings of a very tactical match-up with the outcome still on a knife’s edge. Neither side was expected to make the quarter finals when the season began, so for whoever wins the tie it will be a massive achievement.
For the visitors, Valencia manager Unai Emery was disappointed with the outcome of the first leg, and give up the goal at home. Similar to how the hosts will approach the match, Valencia will be trying to find the balance between defense and attack and not leave themselves too exposed at the back, especially in front of a boisterous home crowd. Valencia’s win at the weekend against Mallorca was only their sixth win in 14 games, but have won their last three away fixtures which should put them in good stead going into today’s tie.
For the hosts, Dutch striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar is still out injured and not 100% match fit as of yet. Lukas Schmitz is serving a one match suspension, while Jose Manuel Jurado is one yellow card from suspension. For Valencia, David Albelda is now available after missing the first leg due to yellow card accumulation. Aritz Aduriz has shaken off an ankle injury, but is one yellow card away from suspension.
Prediction: Schalke 2-1 Valencia (Schalke win 3-2 on aggregate)