Saturday 18 November 2017

Redknapp wary of gift draw

Mark Fleming

Tottenham Hotspur were yesterday handed the easiest possible draw in the Champions League play-off, against the Swiss runners-up Young Boys Berne, the lowest-ranked team they could have drawn.

Spurs avoided the likes of Dynamo Kiev and Sampdoria and will play the first leg in Switzerland.

Tottenham's only previous European meeting with Swiss opposition ended in a 9-1 aggregate win over Grasshoppers in the 1973-74 Uefa Cup.

Manager Harry Redknapp was impressed with Young Boys' victory over Fenerbahce in the previous round, particularly a 1-0 win in Istanbul.

And he said the north London side will be wary of playing on astroturf during the first leg in two weeks time.

Redknapp said: "We'll be favourites, obviously, but we have to give them the utmost respect.

"They beat Fenerbache in the last round and we watched the first leg on dvd and they could have won four or five, they hammered them at home. They then went away and won in Turkey.

"They also have an astroturf pitch at their stadium and they play well on it, so it will be a tough game. To win in Turkey is a great result and there are no easy games anymore.

"We'll have to be prepared for it, but we've Manchester City first in the Premier League and that's the first priority. We'll get that one out of the way and then it will be into the Champions League."

Tottenham qualified for the Champions League play-off round for the first time in their history last season, pipping big-spending Manchester City to fourth place in the penultimate game of the season.

But Redknapp warned that last season's achievements will mean little if Tottenham fail to overcome the Swiss side.

"It's great for the club. It's been a long time coming and we have to all make sure we get through this qualifying round and into the group stages if we can," Redknapp said.

"It won't be easy. We show them absolutely the utmost respect and that's what they deserve.

"They have good players. We've got to try to get into the group stages and that would be fantastic. We'll then have some great games to look forward to, if we can make it.

"As I said though, I can't look beyond this play-off match, that wouldn't be fair." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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