Champions League - Real Madrid v Tottenham: Key battles

Tue, 05 Apr 12:53:00 2011

We take a look at the match-ups that are likely to settle the Champions League quarter-final first leg between European giants Real Madrid and Tottenham.

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Ricardo Carvalho v Peter Crouch

Crouch heads into the clash at the Bernabeu boasting an amazing scoring record in Europe this season, having found the net seven times in eight starts. The England striker's height and goalscoring instinct have proved invaluable for Spurs so far in the competition and European defences have consistently struggled to cope with his assets. But in Carvalho, he faces a defender who knows him well. The former Chelsea man is no stranger to Crouch's physical presence, nor is he averse to mixing things up himself. An experienced, wily defender, Carvalho knows every trick in the book and will not be afraid to use any tactic necessary to negate the threat his adversary poses.

Sergio Ramos v Gareth Bale

Another player to have set alight the competition this season is Bale, who has become one of the continent's hottest properties after a series of sizzling displays. The Welshman's searing pace and trickery on Spurs' left flank has given many a defender a headache, not least reigning champions Internazionale's Maicon, who was left befuddled after Bale terrorised him earlier in the season. Bale may not have played since March 19 but Ramos - who, like Maicon, is one of the best right-backs in the world - will still have his work cut out if, as expected, Harry Redknapp opts to risk his star man to lead Spurs' counter-attacks.

Mesut Ozil v Sandro

Having earned a move to the Bernabeu off the back of his excellent form at the World Cup, Germany star Ozil has not eased off the gas one bit. Indeed, the playmaker is an even better player now than he was last summer and his form for Madrid in his debut season has been sensational: 10 goals and 15 assists in 42 appearances speaks volumes. Ozil is that rare gem of a player who can turn a game in the blink of an eye with a killer pass - he has five assists in the Champions League already this season - and if Spurs are to minimise his impact on the game he will need to be well-shackled. Enter Palacios the enforcer, who Redknapp may turn to in a bid to keep him quiet. With Spurs likely to sit back in Spain and look to hit Madrid on the counter, the Honduran's holding role could prove crucial.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Benoit Assou-Ekotto

While Ronaldo's threat will be spread across Spurs' back four as the Portuguese roams around the attacking third, the brunt of his rapier-like sorties forward will be borne by Assou-Ekotto at left-back. There is little left to say that has not been said already about the former Manchester United ace and, should he play after recovering from injury, he will be sure to test Assou-Ekotto to his limits. Should he not get any joy against the Cameroonian, he will look elsewhere, leaving the likes of William Gallas (if fit), Michael Dawson and Vedran Corluka open to examination - and it is through the middle where Ronaldo's pace may cause some concern for Spurs.

Jose Mourinho v Harry Redknapp

Two of football's great characters, the pair will renew hostilities for a sixth time in Madrid. Heading into the match, Mourinho has the upper hand in games against sides Redknapp has managed - the Portuguese has won all five of their previous meetings. Mourinho has also won five of the eight matches he has managed a side against Tottenham, drawing two and losing just once. But, having just lost his nine-year unbeaten home record, Mourinho has shown he is not invincible - and Redknapp could be able to capitalise on any doubts that defeat to Sporting Gijon may have left in Madrid minds.

Eurosport

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