Preview: Real Madrid vs Tottenham Hotspur

Real Madrid vs Tottenham Hotspur (1st Leg)
Quarter-Finals, UEFA Champions League
Santiago Bernabue Stadium, Madrid
Tuesday, 5th April 2011
18:45 GMT (20:45 CET)

Tottenham Hotspur face a monstrous challenge in their continued Champions League run in the form of Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. Having already flourished against defending champions Inter Milan as well as beating AC Milan in the Round of Sixteen, Harry Redknapp's side would love nothing more than to derail a possible Barcelona-Real Madrid semifinal, but they'll have to achieve something positive in the Santiago Bernabeu to do it.

Both sides are currently struggling for form, although that's relative where Madrid are concerned. Real are eight points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title and have just seen Jose Mourinho's nine year unbeaten streak in the league at home snapped by a shock 1-0 loss to Sporting Gijon. However, they've still won 23 of 30 games and are widely considered to be one of the top sides left in the Champions League.

Spurs are anything but, although their records against Europe's supposed 'big' teams are impressive. Tottenham are struggling for domestic form and currently lie in fifth place in the Premier League (their latest result, a 0-0 draw away at Wigan, may mean the end of their fight to finish in the top four) but since going down 4-0 in the San Siro to Inter Milan during the group stages their Champions League form has been phenomenal. Gareth Bale rescued dignity in that match with a hat-trick, but Tottenham went on to beat Inter at home, win the group, and emerge victorious against AC Milan after grinding out a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.

In Gareth Bale, Redknapp has an electrifying player capable of both scoring and setting up goals, and he's particularly dangerous against fullbacks whose natural inclination is towards the attack - just look at what he managed to do against Maicon during the Inter games. Although Tottenham's strikers are nothing to write home about, the rest of the midfield is packed with talented. Luka Modric is a brilliant playmaker who's so underrated it's almost a cliche, Sandro has being quietly effective as a hulking defensive midfielder, and Aaron Lennon's blistering pace on the right flank complements Bale nicely.

But still, they're not real Madrid. Where Spurs have Rafael van der Vaart, Madrid counter with World Cup star Mesut Ozil. Gareth Bale is met by the superlative figure of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose greatness is only overshadowed by the presence of Lionel Messi in Barcelona. On a good day, at full strength, Tottenham may be able to match Mourinho's side in the midfield - but they are significantly weaker everywhere else. To make things a little more interesting, though, full strength is something that neither side will be able to claim in the first leg.

It's difficult to know how the game will go with both sides ravaged by injuries, but one would have to expect the favourites (Real Madrid) to pull out a home win. Don't be surprised if Spurs manage to sneak an away goal to make it more interesting at White Hart Lane.

Related Article:
UCL 2010-11: Assessing The 8 Quarterfinalists

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