Redknapp: Spurs must take points from Inter Milan double-header
Spurs boss is warning his players that they will need to take points from their Champions League double-header against Inter Milan to progress to the knock-out stages.
IT IS always quietest before the storm and, having seen Spurs Lodge emptied by international fixtures last week, Harry Redknapp had time to pause for breath.
The Lilywhites returned to face 11 games in six weeks, including Premier League clashes with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In the past, these would have been the biggest fish in the pond for Spurs, the greatest challenges that they would face – but not this year.
Tottenham’s Champions League adventure now pits them against a new level of opposition and, seven weeks after the draw for the group stages was held, the time has now come for Spurs to take on the best football club on the continent – the reigning champions of Europe.
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Group A hands Tottenham two matches against Inter Milan, with the first coming at the San Siro tomorrow night and the second coming at the Lane two weeks later.
These are momentous and historic occasions for the fans to savour as they prepare to face the likes of Julio Cesar, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Maicon, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o.
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However, Redknapp is adamant that his Lilywhites will not depart for Italy as grateful, starstruck tourists, content to simply feast their eyes on the world-famous arena, enjoy the occasion and then take their medicine on the field.
Having made a positive and unbeaten start in Group A with four points from two games, Spurs sit second behind the Italians, and the Tottenham manager is targeting the knock-outs.
“That group is so tight. We’ve got two games now with Inter Milan and we’ve got to get some points from them because the other teams are going to pick up points now,” Redknapp told Spurs TV Online.
“If we don’t have a good spell in that then Inter Milan could be through and then in the last couple of games they could go and put reserve teams out because they’ve already qualified. That’s how the Champions League goes.
“If you were a betting man and you wanted to have a bet on the last games it’s impossible because half the teams don’t bother.
“They’ve already won their group or they can’t come any better than second and they can’t finish third, so they rest players for the weekend’s league games. It makes it difficult. It’s wide open, anything could happen still.”
As an avid student of the Champions League, Redknapp will know that Spurs are targeting 10 points to progress to the next stage.
Over the past two seasons, 32 teams have qualified from their groups, and only five have done so with less than 10 points – four of those five got nine points.
Ironically, Inter Milan have failed to reach the 10-point target in both of the last two seasons, but have still reached the last 16.
Indeed, eight points was enough to take them through in 2008, when they finished one point ahead of Werder Bremen.
However, that is an anomylous result in an otherwise obvious pattern. Ten points is almost always enough. Anything less and the chances are you will finish third.
That leaves Spurs needing six points from four games. Fast forward past Inter and it is reasonable to suggest that the Lilywhites could beat Werder Bremen at the Lane and get a point at Twente, as they did in Germany.
That scenario leaves Tottenham needing two points against Rafael Benitez’s holders – a point in Italy this week and then another point in N17.
We’ve had a good start. We played well in Germany and we had a great win [against FC Twente] but it’s still going to be tough, it’s still tight, “said Redknapp.
“Going to Werder Bremen was a big one, playing so well there and getting two up and just not being able to hang onto it. If we’d got to half-time two up we would have won that game, I’m sure. But they’ve been interesting games and it’s great to be involved in the Champions League. It’s fantastic, we want more of that.”
“It’s great, the big build-up to it all, the day before, training on the pitch. Going to Milan we’ll train at the San Siro the night before we play there.
“We’ll take great support with us and these are great games. You’re playing the holders and they had all four players in the Uefa Players of the the Year this year.
“They won every position – best goalkeeper [Cesar], best defender [Maicon], best midfielder [Sneijder], best striker [Diego Milito]. So it’s a great game to look forward to.
“It’s a big challenge for us and it’s a great game to look forward to. Rafa [Van der Vaart] is suspended unfortunately but I’m sure the lads will be up for it and looking forward to it.”