Redknapp: Tottenham’s Euro trip has been as tough as it gets
HARRY Redknapp admits that Tottenham are taking the toughest possible route through the Champions League after drawing nine-times European champions Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
However, the Spurs boss insists that his Lilywhites will be inspired by their daunting quarter-final against the Spanish giants, rather than intimidated.
The north Londoners drew reigning European champions Inter Milan in the group stages, as well as the experienced German outfit Werder Bremen and Dutch champions FC Twente, before being pitted against AC Milan in the last 16 – despite topping Group A.
Now, having disposed of the seven-times Champions League winners, Spurs have been handed a mammoth quarter-final against Jose Mourinho’s Galacticos, with the first leg being played at the Bernabeu.
“We’ve had hard draws, all the way back to the Astroturf pitch against Young Boys in the qualifiers – then Inter Milan and AC Milan,” said Redknapp. “It’s been a great achievement by the players to do what they’ve done. Nobody wanted Barcelona, but you can’t dictate who you draw. Real Madrid and their players are not very far behind Barca.
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“We’ve also got the toughest side of the draw in the semi-finals, [the winners will face Barcelona or Shakhtar Donetsk], although we could have had Barcelona in the quarter-finals, I suppose. The winners of Chelsea and Manchester United have got a great chance of getting to the final, haven’t they?
“Certainly we can’t have had a much tougher route, but I think we’ve enjoyed playing against the big clubs – and facing a team like Real Madrid will inspire us rather than intimidate us, for sure.
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“We look forward to playing against the big teams. Our players haven’t played much Champions League football but they have played international football – they’ve played against Spain and those kind of teams – so they’ll want to get on the big stage again and show what they can do.”
Redknapp admits that he has huge respect for Madrid’s manager Mourinho, the self-styled “Special One”, but he insists that he is focused on Real’s players, not their boss.
“He’s ‘special’ for lots of reasons,” said the Spurs boss. “He gets the best out of players, and players want to play for him. You saw how upset they were when he left Inter after the Champions League final last year. It was like that at Chelsea too, I think.
“Look at what he achieved with Chelsea, at FC Porto and Inter Milan – it is an amazing record. But at the end of the day it’s about the team – you play against a team, even if it’s his team. It will be a great occasion.”