Tuesday 16 January 2018

Striking balance crucial for Redknapp

Harry Redknapp. Photo: Getty Images
Harry Redknapp. Photo: Getty Images

Steve Tongue

When the Champions League draw was made at the end of August, pitting Tottenham in the same group as Inter, most Spurs followers would doubtless have settled for qualifying for the knockout stage by finishing second to last season's winners.

As they prepare for tonight's final game away to FC Twente, however, winning the section is very much on the cards. What they must do is at least match Inter's result away to bottom club Werder Bremen.

The incentive is considerable, for it would mean avoiding Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the next round, all of whom are guaranteed to win their group, as well as the other English clubs, who cannot be drawn together; missing the big guns as well as the Gunners (assuming Arsenal come through as expected tomorrow) would send Spurs into Friday's draw confident of further extending their first campaign at this level for almost half a century.

As Peter Crouch, the striker who has excelled in Europe while stuttering in the Premier League, put it in relation to the two Spanish masters: "They are the two to avoid. But the first thing is to be top of the group and that's important for us."

Six goals against Inter and another three against Werder Bremen to secure qualification meant that Spurs' five group matches have produced 23 goals -- Harry Redknapp has lived up to his promise to enter Europe on an attacking ticket.

Naturally the manager would have preferred his defence to have been tighter and with the complication of needing to know Inter's result, Spurs' approach this evening in the Grolsch Veste stadium will need due care.

So will Redknapp's team selection. Having made it clear that "I won't be resting anyone, we need to finish top," he must decide on the best combination of strikers.

In a 1-1 draw at Birmingham on Saturday, Crouch and Jermain Defoe failed to improve on a wretched scoring record of one league goal between them all season. Crouch, on the other hand, has six to his name in Europe, which gives Redknapp much to ponder, as Roman Pavlyuchenko has the most goals overall.

Although Younes Kaboul is missing from defence, Michael Dawson could return after three months' absence against a side beaten 4-1 in London, when Spurs were awarded three penalties. Tottenham hope destiny has an altogether grander finish in store. (© Independent News Service)

FC Twente v Tottenham

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.45

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport