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Euro Vision

Champions League preview: Spurs tipped to progress

It could be a memorable night in North London as Harry Redknapp’s men look to make a little bit of history.

Tottenham Hotspur v AC Milan (first leg Milan 0 Spurs 1)

One has all the pedigree, the other all the verve. A snapshot of these clubs’ respective places in the history of Europe’s premier club competition can be made by looking at the sleeve of their shirts. Milan have the big-eared cup with the number 7 emblazoned on it. Spurs have, well, nothing.

But as abrupt as that is in showing the gulf in history between the two, the sight of Arron Lennon zipping past the Milan defence at will in the first leg highlights the gap between them in the present. In that first leg Spurs were all pace and width, Milan in contrast looked tired and slow. Gennaro Gattuso’s rage at the San Siro was that of a beaten man.

To qualify Milan need some divine intervention from one of their big three – Robinho, Ibrahimovic and Pato. Ideally they would like to draw the sting from Spurs early on and try to win the game in the second half, but with Mark Van Bommel, Andrea Pirlo, Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini all absent through injury or ineligibility, the Milan midfield four will be an unfamiliar one. With Gareth Bale back and Jermaine Defoe back scoring, Spurs can add to their away goal, and that should be enough.

Probable teams –

Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Modric, Palacios, Bale, Van Der Vaart, Crouch.

A.C Milan: Abbiati, Abata, Nesta, Silva, Jankulovski, Seedorf, Merkal, Flamini, Pato, Robinho, Ibrahimovic.

Match odds: Spurs : 5/4 Draw : 23/10 Milan : 11/5

Schalke 04 v Valencia (First leg: Valencia 1 Schalke 1)

A meeting that won’t grab the headlines or the audience share outside of Spain or Germany but an intriguing tie nonetheless. Schalke go into the game as marginal favourites to qualify given the away goal they managed at Valencia in the first leg.

The Germans are hampered by the absence of Klass Jan-Huntelaar but can of course call upon the competition’s record goal scorer in Raul. Valencia welcome back Joaquin and top scorer Soldado for the trip.

Neither come into the game in great form, though Valencia won their last domestic game while Schalke lost theirs. The Valencia manager Unai Emery is a committed chess player and it will be interesting to see what strategy he has developed as he tries to strike a balance between getting the all important goal and keeping Schalke and Raul out.

For all his planning and gesticulating on the sidelines (just watch him tonight) he may be thwarted by German number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. He has been heavily linked with both Manchester United and Bayern Munich in recent weeks and a standout performance here will add a couple of noughts to the fee when he eventually leaves.

It is a most delicately poised of ties. Schalke have the away goal, but Valencia have the marginally better form and better attacking threats. A draw it is then.

Probable teams –

Schalke 04: Neuer, Uchida, Howedes, Metzelder, Sarpei; Matip, Kluge, Farfan, Raul, Jurado,Edu

Valencia: Guaita, Bruno, D. Navarro, R. Costa, Mathieu; Banega, Topal; Pablo, T. Costa, Mata, Soldado.

Match Odds: Schalke 6/4 Draw: 11/5 Valencia: 15/8