We got Real Madrid
This is going to be epic.
The hard way is the only way is the Spurs way. Year ends in one. Chas'n'Dave reunited. Wembley final. Not so much about winning it, just creating crowing cockerels of history along the way. For as long as it lasts. And long may it continue. It's got to be enjoyed otherwise what's the point? It's a cliché, but anything can happen, which is why its better to believe and dream than to hide behind the fear. Even if it goes against our seasoned DNA as Spurs fans to be pessimistic. You can hardly not wear your heart on your sleeve for this particular occasion.
Wanted Madrid. Got them. Even managed to pencil in the potentially of Barca in the semi-final. The footballing Gods are either listening or mocking me, depending on how all this pans out. Romantic notions aside relating to glamour and Glory Glory nights, one thing is for certain, this is hardly going to be easy - which is when Spurs tend to deliver the unexpected.
Harry up against Jose. Zonal Marking might explode in it's preview. Away at the Bernabéu then back at the Lane. Madrid, flamboyantly brilliant going forward and expertly organised and drilled be it not the best defensively because of the offensive nature of their back four. But then when you power forward and score goals you hardly have to worry too much the defending. Something previous incarnations of Real Madrid teams basked in but often failed in the long run for their naivety and lack of emphasis on unity at the back.
Talking of their offensive nature; Marcelo, Di Maria, Ozil, Benzema, Ronaldo. Hardly a yard off the pace are they? Not too shabby with their set-pieces either.
What do we do to compete?
No containment, no deep lying soaking of pressure. We have to attack with intelligence, with bravado and belief. Bale, Modric, vdV - all key, as much as the player(s) who take responsibility with defensive duties in the middle. Enter the Sandro. Possession also vital. Madrid are no Barca but they will tear you up if you invite.
What makes it altogether more tricky is Jose is no mug to the English game and our players and has a 5-0* record against Redknapp. Be it in the EPL. This is where we find out aplenty regarding tactical astuteness and how much lady luck plays a part. He'll know exactly how to set up his team and what tempo to play the game at, both home and away. And no doubt if he gets the result he wants in Spain then he might go all Chelsea cira Jose in the return. Tactics aside, the true battle for me is man-management. And Harry v Jose is a colossus battle between two men who know how to get the best out of their players.
*Correct me if I've got that one wrong.
Also, keep a keen eye on the battle within the media. I expect overdrive in the stories linking Bale to the Bernabéu.
Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Marcelo, Di Maria, Alonso, Khedira, Ozi, Ronaldo, Benzema
Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Gallas, BAE, Lennon, Modric, Sandro/Hudd, Bale, van der Vaart, Crouch
Some of that. It's finally happening IRL rather than a Football Manager save game.
Play to our strengths Tottenham, play with width, pace and venom. The latter something we've lacked since Bale was injured but thankful he's returned just in time. They're going to come out wanting to hurt us and put the game beyond our means for the return visit in North London. So hurt them back we must. Midfield is the key and the less time players like Alonso have on the ball the better. We're going to have to be offensive by being defensive thus allowing for the offense. I'll work out exactly what I mean by that and come back to it in the build up to the game.
This is not a free-flowing finished article side we're up against. They have, much like us, imperfections. They just happen to have a tad more high end quality players. Just a tad. Enough to see off most of La Liga and Europe with inspirational moments of genius and cheek and devastating play at pace. Hard to beat, they can also dig out a result thanks to aforementioned genius with some added grit. Which is obviously a trait that Mourinho has added, that hard to beat quality. Something we're not too bad at either.
What allows me to have some faith in our chances is that because of expectations the pressure mounting on Jose and because of the style of play expected from their side - they can't shut up shop and play effective bland football much like we become accustomed too when he plied his trade in England. I know I'm slightly boxing in Chelsea of old there but his sides tend to be shrewd and cunning and ultimately frustrating for the beaten opposing side and sometimes the home fans too. Park the bus anyone?
Madrid are not bland but very much effective and as mentioned 'drilled'. They work more cohesively as a unit under Jose. Hence the reason why they are in the QF's for the first time in a number of seasons. They will attack. And that will suit us, as long as mental-shut downs like the one experienced against Inter in the Giuseppe Meazza are no more. Although - it pains me to even reference it - if we are finally out of our depth, it's no failure or disgrace to hold up our hands and gracefully accept our departure from this magnificent journey.
Loved Lineker during the draw. Made up for Rafa and his return. Not so made up for the colour shirt, shorts and socks we'll have to wear in the first game. We'll be drenched in history when we play all white in the second game under the floodlights back on home territory. A tradition inspired by that famous Madrid side that won it 5 times on the trot.
Simply put - we need to score away from home. And I reckon we will. Hold it together at the back. Frustrate them, get the home support on their backs. How did I start this article off?
Anything can happen.
Two weeks to go and the hairs on the back of my neck have already ripped themselves away leaving broken skin behind and dancing their way to the top of my head.
It's going to be fantastic.
In other news. Apparently we've got a game on Saturday.