After a heated first meeting between Tottenham and AC Milan in their Champions League battle, Rafael van der vaart and Harry Redknapp have called on Spurs to attack with the ball and not let tensions boil over in the second leg tonight.
In their first clash with AC Milan, Spurs were left seething after Mathieu Flamini’s horror tackle on Vedran Corluka resulted in Flamini receiving only a yellow card, with Corluka stretchered off the ground and badly injured for weeks.
After the whistle was blown, AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso also confronted Tottenham assistant Joe Jordan, head butting the coach at one point. As a result, Gattuso received a four match ban from UEFA.
The tackle on Corluka was described by Redknapp in a post match furor as an ‘absolute disgrace’ and a ‘leg breaker’.
Despite the controversy, Tottenham were able to take a 1-0 lead from the clash, which affirmed the side as favourites to win at home tonight. For Van der Vaart, this is what Spurs will concentrate on tonight, rather than the tensions with AC Milan.
“Was I upset with what happened to Joe? For me, the most important thing was that we won the game. They were a bit frustrated. Of course Gattuso wants to win every game, so he was a bit upset. But for me it wasn’t a problem,” he told the Daily Star.
With Vedran fit and ready to play tonight, one would expect Tottenham will be out for revenge over their Italian rivals, but Van der Vaart says Spurs will keep a cool head.
“It’s great that Vedran is fit. He’s a very good player.
“Of course it was a hard tackle from Flamini, and maybe [Vedran]’s still a bit angry, but we need him, we need him for the whole 90 minutes. He is not going to do stupid things. It was a hard tackle, but that is part of the game."
Redknapp echoed Van der Vaart’s calls for calm, but still admits the Cup tie is going to be fiery. “Flamini will get a hot reception whatever I say. The crowd will give him a warm welcome to White Hart Lane. It was a bad tackle in the first leg.
“But he knows what to expect. He’s a former Arsenal player. I am sure that he has had it before. As for Joe, he can take care of himself."
Redknapp will be looking to play an attacking game to uphold Tottenham’s record of winning every Champions League game, and scoring at least 3 goals, at White Hart Lane since August last year.
“I expect a hard game and they will look to hit us on the counter. They have good forwards. My message to the players is to get after them and press them back and go and see if we can score again.”