Club Focus – Tottenham – San Siro win puts one foot in quarter-finals

When Peter Crouch rolled Aaron Lennon’s cutback into the bottom corner he sparked scenes of delirium in Milan, London, and among all Tottenham fans around the globe. The important away goal, coupled with the disallowing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last gasp strike, has given Tottenham a huge advantage in the second leg. Yet once the elation of last night’s win has settled, their prime target must still lie in the league.

As a result of Chelsea’s draw with Fulham on Monday, Tottenham sit in fourth position in the league, being two points ahead of Chelsea having played the same amount of games. This position may well have given the side the confidence to play the way they did last night. However, they still need to travel to Stamford Bridge and Anfield while also having to play Manchester City and Arsenal again. Playing with the determination and spirit seen at the San Siro (where players like skipper Michael Dawson put their bodies on the line to defend, and Aaron Lennon attacks with incredible pace) can take them through these potential obstacles. Peter Crouch’s goal last night was one that epitomised the way Tottenham have played this year, and how Harry Redknapp swore pre-match they would carry on playing: a dynamic, attacking style fearing no teams. Continuations of this will surely help them retain fourth spot, at the expense of Chelsea or Man City.

Despite this, even the most elated of Spurs fans will concede that they are extremely unlikely to win the Champions League this year ahead of world greats like Barcelona, Real Madrid and their English rivals Chelsea and Manchester United. This emphasises the need to secure Champions League qualification this year, a far more important aim than proceeding through the second leg in three weeks. Qualifying again will underline the levels the club has reached, and the world’s top players, similar to the calibre of Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale, will recognise this and these talents and be drawn to signing for the club.

Failure to qualify will leave experiences such as last night and their previous trip to the San Siro as fleeting memories, and would mean a step back for the club, possibly having to settle to sign player of lesser quality. It could see their rivals take advantage and make improvements that could keep Tottenham out of Europe’s elite competition for a while. Aaron Lennon said last night after the game: “We’re loving being in the Champions League.” The winger’s enthusiasm, and that of his team-mates, depends on their ability to continue these fantastic results. Tottenham are loving the experience that this year has brought and they’re obviously hungry for more, but only Tottenham can decide whether they’ll experience the same highs again. Nights like last may have convinced fans of European football that Spurs are here to stay. Their league form must reflect the statement sent to the world last night.

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