Only the dead and the dying will be expecting a goalless draw. Even our strikers – too often bashful in front of goal – have finally started showing off: Defoe’s amazing brace and Pav’s stunner at Molineux. Yet it looks like Harry will retain trust in Crouch, the scorer from the first leg, and tireless workhorse at the crest of the wave.
He’s big, he’s tall, he hates the Arsenal, Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch. All true. And despite the reviews the dynamic beanpole receives in England, AC’s Thiago Silva rates him, “the strongest player I have marked in the Champions League.”
This is key. We’re an unknown quantity in Europe and while Spurs fans may have been shocked by how confidently we’ve performed during our virgin steps into the tournament, the Italians seem to think that’s how we play week in, week out. They’re scared of us.
Van der Vaart starts, and there’s no playing down the significance of that. Bale’s 50/50, reckons Harry. Bet he plays.
AC are without Cassano, Van Bommel, Emanuelson and the suspended Gattuso, besides long-term crocks, Pirlo and Ambrosini. Even K-P Boateng, who was banging on about doing a job on his former teammates, having failed to do one for us, is doubtful. When a midfield’s hopes linger on Flamini, it has issues.
Then there’s the Italians’ central defence. Yepes and Nesta are old enough to remake The Mummy. It’s touch and go whether one of them develops dementia during the game and wanders up into the stands trailing wee.
If Van der Vaart, Bale and Modric start, with Lennon skipping down the right wing like a hell-bent pixie – at home, remember – surely the tie is there for the taking.
Gomes pulls off a world-class save one minute, and faffs at the ball the next, like an effeminate child playing blind man’s bluff.
Unless you were living in a yurt among Mongolian nomads until 2008, you will remember a Spurs side capable of shooting itself in the foot at an anti-gun protest held by Weebles. And it’s hard to recalibrate the expectations.
Post-Harry – for it is he – we’ve beaten Arsenal home and away, did City at Eastlands to snatch this coveted CL place, beat Chelsea at the Lane and in a cup final, lost 3-1 away to Blackpool, and drew 3-3 with Wolves last weekend, their point too easily deserved.
It took me eons to understand why “ball-watching” is a derogatory term. I’d assumed that every footballer should watch the ball, or they’d end up zig-zagging about the pitch like Python’s Upper Class Twits.
Then I saw Alan Hutton give away his penalty against Molineux. Ball-watching, while Milijas stole in behind him.
The Scots lad isn’t up to it.
Our defence ships goals. Gomes pulls off a world-class save one minute, and faffs at the ball the next, like an effeminate child playing blind man’s bluff. (I hope Blackburn go down – show the chicken chaps there’s more to life than power and chicken – and we get Robbo back. Seriously.)
Daws and Benny, resilient and delightful as they are, do suffer the occasional lapse in concentration. So thank fuck Harry bought Billy Gallas, on whom I am developing a secret infatuation.
AC have Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho, which concludes the “Bad” section.
According to Gattuso, his head-butt on Joe Jordan came after a heated exchange during which, he explained, “We were both speaking Scottish.”
“Crivens! Yer muther’s a whooer an’ ah dun ’er oop the jacksie!”
“Jings! Ye say that agin ye wee scunner!”
That sort of thing, one assumes. After which they both donned outsize tartan caps and lamped each other wearing deep-fried boxing gloves.
Concerning Gattuso’s choice of historically hard target, Harry noted: “He obviously hadn't done his homework. He could've picked a fight with somebody else.”
Robinho, on the other hand, clearly has done his homework: “[Spurs] have a very tall player in Peter Crouch,” he pointed out earlier this week.
The sharp ones are always the most dangerous.
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