Tottenham boss backs his not-so-secret weapon to sink AC Milan again
HARRY Redknapp admits that European defences struggle to deal with Peter Crouch, and is backing the 6ft 7ins striker to continue his prolific Champions League campaign tonight.
Tottenham host AC Milan at White Hart Lane in the second leg of their last-16 tie, holding a 1-0 aggregate lead after triumphing at the San Siro in Italy three weeks ago.
Crouch scored the 80th-minute winner that night, taking his European tally to seven goals in eight games in Spurs’ first ever season in the Champions League.
“Crouchy’s had a great European campaign. He’s scored his goals and he’s made goals for [Rafael] van der Vaart,” said Redknapp. “They’ve been a good pair and they’re the pair that I’ve really gone for in Europe, and it’s worked well for us.
“I think in England we have central defenders who are probably more used to heading the ball. They don’t cross the ball so much in Spain or Italy, they play a different game.
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“You don’t often see Barcelona and Real Madrid crossing balls, they play in and around the box, playing one-twos. We put the ball into the box a lot more in this country, into someone like Crouchy, and they probably find it more difficult to deal with than English defences, for sure.”
Redknapp admits that he has faced a dilemma over whether to “stick or twist” with Spurs’ single-goal advantage tonight.
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However, the Tottenham manager has resolved that attack will be the best form of defence.
“It is a tough one, I always say that in these two-legged games. When you get that advantage from the away game, do you stick or twist?” said Redknapp.
“If you sit back and think ‘well we’ve got the 1-0 lead’, you’re going to find yourselves in trouble. We’ve got to go and play, we have to think that it’s a one-off game and forget that first leg now.
“We’re at home, we’ve got to go to win the game. That’s how we’ll play. It’s not our natural game to sit there and think we’re going sit on a 1-0 lead for 90 minutes. We’ll pick an attacking team and have a go at them again.
“Of course it’s not over. People don’t realise the danger of AC Milan. They’re top of the league in Italy, they’ve got some fantastic forward players - matchwinners. They’ve got players who have been there and done it at every level in world football, people like [Alessandro] Nesta, so they’re going to be dangerous.”
Spurs will be able to call on Gareth Bale, who missed the first leg at the San Siro with a back injury, and are also hopeful that Van der Vaart will win his race for fitness.