The draw for the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League will take place tomorrow, and as the little balls whirl around inside the drum, one of them will correspond to Tottenham Hotspur. I have loved every second of this year’s campaign and I intend to get as much enjoyment out of it as possible, especially as it might not come back to White Hart Lane next year. With that in mind, I wonder who would be the best draw for Tottenham?
Tottenham may have achieved some great results this year in the Champions League and in many respects have been a breath of fresh air to the competition. But regardless of that, they are still underdogs.
Looking at the odds, bet365 have Tottenham as sixth favourites to win the competition, with shorter odds than Schalke and Shakhtar. But Shakhtar would not be an easy game by any means. They will be very hard to beat in the Ukraine. It is cold and a long trip away and they have already beaten Arsenal at home this year. They have not lost at home in Europe since 2008. On the other hand, they do not travel well. They might seem like a good draw, but I think it would not be an easy game. This tie would hinge on where the first game is played.
Indeed, where the first leg is played will be crucial for Tottenham.
I think Tottenham play their best when they are losing, not winning. They showed this against Inter when they came from 4-0 down to 4-3. Tottenham love to chase a game, not control it. Despite the clean sheet against Milan, Tottenham were dominated. Milan had 60% of possession and looked much more likely to create a goal. Tottenham put in a good defensive performance, but should not be relying on their defence to get them through. They should rely on their strengths, and I still think this is the pace and width that Bale and Lennon provide in attack.
With this in mind, Tottenham need to play their second leg at home if they are going to qualify, whether it is against Shakhtar or Barcelona. Let me imagine, that Tottenham drew Barcelona and the first leg was at home. If, somehow, Tottenham beat them, they would still have to defend a lead at the Nou Camp, and I really don’t think that is likely.
On the other hand, if Tottenham played at the Nou Camp first and lost, it would not be the end of the world. Spurs could still attack and try to get an away goal. Furthermore, Spurs could bring Barcelona to White Hart Lane and attack them there too. This is the way Tottenham play best. An away first leg means we could attack in both legs.
The likely hood is; if Tottenham are going to succeed in the next round (whoever they play), they are going to have to win a White Hart Lane as an away win is unlikely. Tottenham would stand more chance of qualifying, if they chase a game in London than defend abroad.
So, come tomorrow, I hope Tottenham get Schalke as that would be the easiest draw. But other than that I just hope they get to play their second leg at White Hart Lane.
The fact is Tottenham are underdogs. To progress in this competition they are going to have to be at their very best, regardless of who they are drawn against. On their night Tottenham can compete with anyone. But this will be made easier if they play away in the first leg.
If you want to discuss your hopes for the draw, you can get in touch with Joe on twitter @joeaustin8