AC MILAN vs TOTTENHAM
Spurs boss senses an opportunity for his side to join European elite on regular basis
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp believes his side stand on the brink of returning to the big time on a full-time basis ahead of their second San Siro showdown in four months.
After their epic 4-3 defeat against Inter back in October, Spurs return to the arena which saw Gareth Bale catapult himself to the top of every major European club’s summer wish list as they take on AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Welsh winger is among a number of headline acts set to miss out on the latest installment of Tottenham’s continental adventure, but win, lose or draw Redknapp is confident the north Londoners will be dining at Europe’s top table for years to come.
When asked if Spurs stood on the brink of a new successful era, Redknapp said: “The opportunity is there, for sure. If we keep on bringing the top players in we can achieve whatever we want.
“The owners are more important than I am as the manager and I think that they want to compete. The window came and we were willing to go and buy a top player but we just couldn’t find a player that we wanted.
“It was difficult but if the right people came along then I think the club would sit down and do it. If Tottenham did that then the sky is the limit for us for the next few years.”
Bale, whose hat-trick came tantalisingly close to completing one of the greatest European comebacks of all-time against Inter, misses out with a back problem, while Luka Modric, still recovering from an appendix operation, is also a major doubt.
There is better news for Spurs fans on the availability of Dutch playmaker, Rafael van der Vaart, who is expected to start after missing the win at Sunderland.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY: AC MILAN
Serie A leaders and unbeaten in nine, Milan look in good shape, warming up for Spurs by thrashing Parma 4-0 on Saturday. Three of five defeats this season have come at home, however.
Massimiliano Allegri is no big name but has taken to the job well since replacing Leonardo last summer. Previously with Cagliari, Allegri, 43, made his name at minnows Sassuolo.
One of the deadliest strikers in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has 17 goals this season, and has been especially lethal in Europe, with five already.
Robinho has settled far better in Milan than he did in Manchester and has netted nine times in his first term in Italy, where is deployed on then left wing.