Heart in mouth
Basel away. Score one more goal than they do. Avoid a penalty shoot-out. Hello semi-final. That's the plan. We need to get stuck in this evening otherwise the dream of Amsterdam will perish forever and we'll be laboured with rationalising the on going arguments surrounding prioritising league over cup. Might as well endeavour to make this journey worth while and finish it with a final. Otherwise it's pats on the head and 'I told you so' from those that preferred to side step this competition altogether from the start.
I still think that silverware will be majestic. It will mean next season we can say the last time we won something was last season. I'm considered how a negative result will impact us - players and supporters. We'll have to wait and see. We'll have to make do with the other six cup finals (none of which are in walking distance of the famous 'dam Red Light District) that we'll face after our short break. Next league game isn't until the 21st of April. The squad apparently on a 4 day break after tonight's second leg.
If Andre Villas-Boas is serious, if the players really desire it...we'll find out tonight. I would like to see some bravery and urgency. I'd like to see some belief in our application once the whistle is blown. I would like to see us line-up with a full strength side (as full strength as selection allows). Basel no mugs away as we found out. They're hardly a soft touch in their home fortress. Fourteen wins out of twenty so far this season losing just the one game. You want more? They've not conceded at home since October. Compare that to the stat that sees us not winning a game when Bale hasn't scored since the start of the year (if that stat is made up, it's pretty believable).
Possession will be key along with how incisive we are with it. We kept the ball far better against Everton when Huddlestone came on. Impact sub, he looks good. Difficult to gauge how well he can compete over the full ninety. Necessity here is to surprise our hosts. Give them something to worry about, something to react to. Rather than turn up, soak it up and play dangerous counter-attacking football (the danger being we get hit before we get a chance to hit back). Our defending has not been a confident unit recently.
I have no team news. Perhaps AVB will select footballers in positions across the field of play including one that is permitted to touch the ball with hands. I'm not overly confident based on the gradual degradation of our European performances. There's been the occasional master-class, but mostly it's been an afterthought/damage limitation exercise. Didn't go our away in Milan. Slow to react in the 2-2 last week against the Swiss. Key players injured. Head says no, emotive DNA says yes.
Once more I'll take up my default position, heart out of chest, placed into mouth.
Come on you Spurs.