Champions League: 10 Key Matchups for Tottenham Hotspur Against Real Madrid
On the 5th and 13th of April, Tottenham face a Real Madrid over two legs to determine which team will progress to the Champions League semifinals to meet either Barcelona or Shakhtar Donetsk.
This season has already been a dream Champions League run for Spurs, having been written off by many fans at practically every stage of the tournament.
Now, having beaten holders Inter Milan and knocked out Serie A leaders AC Milan, Tottenham are in the quarterfinals, one step further than rivals Arsenal.
Here are 10 key matchups for Tottenham against Real Madrid in what will be two of the biggest games in the club's history.
Heurelho Gomes vs Karim Benzema
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The Spurs keeper has the ability to be an absolutely world class shot stopper when he wants to be and when he maintains his focus, so Spurs fans will be hoping to have two of his better games over these two legs.
Despite making one startling error against AC Milan in the last round that left William Gallas to clear a shot off the line, Gomes largely had quite a solid game. If he manages to do so again, he could frustrate Real.
The Real Madrid striker, who only a few months ago was being rumoured to be the subject of a large bid by Tottenham, is now finally fulfilling his potential at Real leaving the club delighted to be holding on to him.
The player has been on a fine run of scoring form of late and, with the support of new strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor, he could again prove unstoppable against a Spurs defence which has at times been a bit shaky this season.
Vedran Corluka vs Cristiano Ronaldo
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The Spurs right back spent much of this season either out of the squad or on the bench behind Alan Hutton, but, after a number of good performances from the Scot, he's back in the team and determined to make the right back position his own.
When on form, Corluka is a very good defender, although he can also prove to be quite lazy in possession sometimes. Either way, he'll have to be far more careful with Ronaldo up against him.
Spurs will just have to take comfort in the fact that they've faced Ronaldo a number of times before during his time at Manchester United, and they will have to use that to their advantage if they want to stop the skillful Portuguese winger.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that, when he's on the top of his game, Ronaldo is pretty much a world beater. On the other hand, he was known as a big game flop at United and is just coming back from a minor injury.
William Gallas vs Emmanuel Adebayor
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Who would have thought that an ex-Arsenal and ex-Chelsea centre back would be one of the sole reasons Spurs reached the Champions League quarterfinals?
Having had many fans up in arms after his signing, William Gallas has gradually won people over after a string of very strong performances. His clearance off the line against AC Milan was the final act to leave Tottenham fans declaring him as a hero, rather than just another money-grabbing defender.
Having played with Gallas during their time together at Arsenal, Adebayor knows exactly what is expected of him to get past the Spurs defender. Having said that, Gallas will also know exactly how to deal with the lanky Madrid striker.
Adebayor seems to have been the catalyst to Benzema's upturn in form of late and could cause problem's with Spurs having to keep a very close eye on both players.
Sandro vs Kaka
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The young Brazilian had many Spurs fans quite excited during his initial move to White Hart Lane despite not many of them having seen him play before. Although it took a while for him to settle in, Sandro had a very good game against AC Milan in the second leg of their Round of 16 clash.
The defensive midfielder appeared every time the Milan midfield tried to push forward and managed to put a stop to countless attacks. While this game will be more of a challenge, Sandro will be ready to prove he is up to the job.
As with Ronaldo, Kaka hardly needs any introduction. The pair were signed as an attempt to restart a new "Galacticos" era, and despite some poor performances, they still have bags of talent between them.
The attacking midfielder, although struggling for form of late, is a world class player when he's at the top of his game and is prepared to prove a real handful for his Brazilian counterpart. Having said that, he'll need to be on form to beat a youngster who's very keen to impress.
Gareth Bale vs Sergio Ramos
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One of the players that Spurs will be hoping passes a late fitness test before the game, Bale is pretty much one of the only reasons Spurs have gotten as far as they have. While each game has been a team effort, Bale has been the player to tear opposition defences to shreds more often than not.
With Spurs desperate to hold on to the winger this summer, an even stronger Champions League run will be key to that, and so if he does help them past Real Madrid, he may well also remain past the summer.
Rated by many as one of the best right backs in the world, Ramos was a part of the World Cup-winning Spain team and has proved to also be an integral part of Real Madrid's defence.
Gareth Bale has already embarrassed a world class full back in Maicon (leaving the stadium singing "Taxi for Maicon"), and Ramos will just have to be very careful he does not consign himself to the same fate. He'll have to be at the very top of his game to stop the flying winger.
Rafael Van Der Vaart vs Xabi Alonso
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Rafael Van Der Vaart
It had to happen, that Van Der Vaart would become one of Spurs key players in their march to the Bernabeu at some point in the Champions League. The Dutch midfielder will no doubt have a point to prove against his old club and now on top form again, he'll feel confident of doing just that.
This season, his link up play with Peter Crouch has left Tottenham with many goals that they so dearly needed throughout the extended absence of Jermain Defoe. Now, against Real Madrid, Van Der Vaart has a chance to prove that Mourinho made a mistake by letting him go.
The different styles of Alonso and Van Der Vaart means that it's unlikely they'll be seen directly clashing on the pitch, but either way, they will be battling for territory.
Alonso likes to sit deep in the Madrid midfield and spray passes out all over the pitch, and part of Van Der Vaart's job on the night could be to stop this flow. Alonso is so talented at what he does though, it could be a harder task than many fans think. The game could well be won and lost in this part of the pitch.
Luka Modric vs Mesut Ozil
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Spurs' little Croatian midfield wizard, Luka Modric, has rapidly become a fan favourite since his move to White Hart Lane. Despite Bale and Van Der Vaart grabbing most of the headlines this season, Modric has kept his head down and let his feet do the talking as he has proven one of Spurs' most key players.
Having drawn attention from Chelsea this season, it shows how much the Croatian does for Spurs, and if he can find enough space in the Madrid half, there is no doubt that he can cause them some problems.
One of the stars of last year's World Cup, Ozil has proven himself another smart purchase by Real Madrid. While he won't directly be clashing with Modric on the pitch, due to their similar attacking styles, he will be in a battle with the Croatian as to who can provide more space, opportunities and ultimately flair to their team.
The young German will be hoping to open up space in the Tottenham half to be able to get the ball to the on-form Benzema, which, if it happens, could change the game.
Aaron Lennon vs Marcelo
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The Spurs winger seems to have been far more unappreciated of late, having had star players like Bale, Van Der Vaart and Modric lining up alongside him in midfield.
Despite that, it seems to have been good for Lennon, who has been able to get his head down and work on his game consistently.
Despite picking up a minor hamstring aggravation when training with England, Lennon could well be ready to play again by the first leg against Madrid. If so, he will be looking to cause Marcelo all sorts of problems at the back.
The Brazilian left back is one of the less talked about in Real's defence but is nonetheless important. This match, he will have to be dealing with Lennon, whose pace has caused nightmares for many full back's in the past.
Marcelo can also play as a left winger, giving him the opportunity to pin back Aaron Lennon, which would be a problem to Spurs. Either way, Lennon will have to make sure his final ball is top quality, since he may not get past Marcelo as much as people think.
Peter Crouch vs Iker Casillas
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The 6'7" striker doesn't need any sort of introduction, not even to people who don't follow football. His frame makes him one of the best known footballers on the planet, although sadly for Spurs fans, he cannot be considered one of the most talented on the planet.
While a very good player in his own right, Crouch needs the right sort of opportunities to score. But if he can link up well with Van Der Vaart again over these two legs, then those opportunities might just arrive.
Recognised by practically all football fans as the greatest goalkeeper of the modern era, Casillas could well prove to be the biggest problem to Spurs over the two legs. Even if the White Hart Lane outfit do manage to defend well and carve out numerous opportunities in the Madrid half, Casillas could quite easily keep the game level.
Now a World Cup winner as well, Casillas has pretty much won it all, although to Spurs' advantage, it has been seven years since he last played in the Champions League quarterfinals. The North London club will just have to be hoping for a stroke of luck here.
Harry Redknapp vs Jose Mourinho
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Despite his angering fans in the past, Redknapp has quickly endeared himself to Spurs fans with a refreshing honesty that didn't seem to appear at the club much before. He's taken the team from bottom of the Premier League to the Champions League quarterfinals and is now looking to extend that dream run.
As the first English manager to reach the Champions League quarterfinals since Terry Venables in 1986, Redknapp has proven his value as a manager. And if he were to knock out the "Special One"? Well, then his stock would practically be through the roof.
In their last five clashes, Mourinho has not been beaten by Redknapp, in a streak that he will no doubt be looking to continue. It must be remembered though, that during that time, Mourinho was in charge of a rich Chelsea side and Redknapp in charge of struggling Portsmouth and Southampton sides.
This time around, the teams are much closer, and so it is where Mourinho's "Special One" status really gets called into action. Having won the Champions League twice already, he may be the favourite to lead his team to victory, but Redknapp has proved time and time again that he should never be written off.