The Real challenge facing Tottenham will be to nullify Mourinho rather than Madrid

In Tottenham Hotspur’s debut Champions League campaign expectations have already been exceeded. Mere qualification for the group stage was a landmark achievement, but one that now pales into insignificance in light of their subsequent accomplishments.

From topping Group A ahead of holders Inter to knocking out the city’s other premier club, 7-time winners Milan, Tottenham have been the surprise package of this year’s competition. Having left their mark on Milan, Spurs travel from one fashion capital to another with an entirely different prospect awaiting them in Madrid. Harry Redknapp’s side travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for one of the biggest nights in the club’s history and with the only previous clashes between the sides coming in the 1985 UEFA Cup quarter-final, past meetings provide little indication of what the outcome will be. Yet, ominously for Spurs, there is a familiar undertone to the occasion in the form of Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho.

Madrid are unbeaten in this season’s competition, with their two draws coming away from home against Milan and Lyon with Real scoring in both. At the Bernabeu their record is perfect, scoring 11 times in four matches without conceding. Mourinho has a similarly perfect record against Redknapp and against Tottenham, the Portuguese tasting defeat only once, winning five of the encounters during his stint with Chelsea, including four wins at White Hart Lane. Mourinho also has detailed knowledge of players such as Peter Crouch, one of Tottenham’s main weapons in Europe this season. Should his side manage to nullify Crouch, they would cut off the supply to playmaker and former Madrid man Rafael van der Vaart, the task of marking whom will likely fall to Sami Khedira.

Khedira is a prime example of the change instituted in Madrid by Mourinho, as he has adapted the team’s ethos to secure their first quarter-final berth since 2004. Having previously resisted the utilitarian Mourinho, his Champions League win with Inter persuaded the Madrid hierarchy to recruit him. Playing in all white, Madrid traditionally liken themselves to a swan, exuding elegance whilst hiding the less aesthetic hard work below the surface. The signing of Khedira is symptomatic of Mourinho’s pragmatism as he departed from these ideals, valuing functionality over flair. Khedira anchors midfield, affording compatriot Mesut

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