Spurs will need another massive match from Aaron Lennon (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
In the first leg of Tottenham Hotspur's UEFA Champions League tie versus AC MIlan they were dominant on the wings, which isn't a surprise against an Italian side. Teams from Serie A have been victimized by width in this European season and Milan were no exception when the Lilywhites came storming into the San Siro. While Spurs' lone goal may not have come from wide, it did come from the work of a wide player, Aaron Lennon, who was a terror all match long and will be heavily depended on again when the two teams square off in the second leg today at White Hart Lane.
It appears as if Gareth Bale will start the second leg on the bench as he recovers from a back injury, but Welsh Jesus didn't play in the first leg and it didn't slow down Spurs' wide play at all. The wide play of Tottenham also put a stop to the Milan attack as it kept the Milan fullbacks pinned back. In the 4-3-3 that Milan plays it is essential that the fullbacks get forward to provide width in the attack, but with Tottenham getting the ball wide with regularity and running at those fullbacks they never had the chance to get forward.
Wide play was both the engine in the Tottenham attack, but it was also the key to stopping the Milan attack, which is why Spurs will need similarly strong wide play at White Hart Lane. One thing that will make getting that width tougher is the absence of Vedran Corluka, still recovering from the horror tackle by Mathieu Flamini from the first leg (and it's a disgrace that he can play in this match while Corluka has to watch injured). Lennon has always been a better player with Corluka behind him because he doesn't have to work as hard defensively and in the few times Corluka does come forward, he has the slightest bit of soccer intelligence so as not to take space away from Lennon. Even without Corluka though, Lennon should be able to scamper up and down the right wing so long as he doesn't have to spend the whole match covering for Alan Hutton, which is a possibility.
Some more clinical play on the left is all Spurs need from Steven Pienaar. The January signing has yet to make the impact that many at Spurs hoped he would have, but it hasn't been because he hasn't put himself in good positions. Ever since signing for Spurs and especially in the first leg of the Champions League tie, Pienaar put himself in good positions regularly, but he lacked the final ball or support to turn that danger into a product. If he can master the finishing of his moves at White Hart Lane today then Tottenham have a goal or two coming from the left.
In all, Spurs are quality wide play away from moving on to the Champions League quarterfinals. Milan essentially cedes the wings to their opponents and Spurs have what it takes to capitalize on it. If they do, they will be on the front foot from the beginning and pushing on to more European glory.