Tottenham Hotspur restarts their European adventure with a round-of-16 first-leg match at AC Milan; what can we expect from Spurs and the game?
Coming to Italy, Tottenham Hotspur is a bit shorthanded; however, so is AC Milan, who has their fair share of injuries. Regardless of who is or is not available for either team, the clubs will face one another with a chance to be positioned for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. If a depleted Tottenham team is to leave the San Siro at least level, if not ahead, Spurs will have to win battles in several key areas of the pitch.
Key Battle 1 is on the Tottenham left
We know Ryan Sessegnon is out, so Ivan Perisic will continue to start and likely play for at least an hour on Tuesday. Perisic has yet to get going for Tottenham, although the Croatian has had his moments for the club. Fortunately, his performances have improved in the Champions League, a competition he is more familiar with. That is good because Perisic will have his hands full on Tuesday.
Belgian right midfielder Alexis Saelemaekers was man-of-the-match twice in his two Champions League appearances for Milan. He has held a regular starting position in the team since the new year. The 23-year-old likes tackling, dribbling, and shooting and will give Perisic all he can handle. Spurs desperately need to win the battle on the flanks, especially the left, with their relative youth and inexperience in the midfield. If Perisic can keep Saelemaekers under wraps, Spurs will be in better shape.