Having seen his side make such an impression against UEFA Champions League holders FC Internazionale Milano in the group stage, Tottenham Hostpur FC manager Harry Redknapp is relishing the chance to take on the Nerazzurri's rivals AC Milan after being drawn against the seven-time champions in the round of 16.
Tottenham had two thrilling contests with Inter this autumn, a 4-3 defeat at San Siro followed by a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane, and Redknapp anticipates two more exciting nights against the Rossoneri. "They have won the trophy seven times, which is a fantastic record," he said. "
They're leading their league, are the top team in Italy and it's a fantastic game to look forward to. It's a great challenge for us.
"They have some real quality, fantastic players, but it's an exciting game," added Redknapp, whose side are away in the first leg on 15 February before the return in London on 9 March. "I said before that I wouldn't mind playing them because you want to play the top teams in the world. They're the games people want to see and it's a great chance to bring them to White Hart Lane for a great game."
The tie will rekindle fond memories for Spurs, who ran out 3-2 aggregate winners in the clubs' only previous meeting in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup semi-finals en route to lifting the trophy. Tottenham finished top of Group A in this, their first UEFA Champions League campaign and will not be overawed by a return to San Siro.
Gareth Bale scored a sensational second-half hat-trick as ten-man Spurs battled back from 4-0 down on Matchday 3, and though the London side came up short, the confidence gained that night will hold them in good stead against Massimiliano Allegri's team.
The Rossoneri coach has certainly been impressed with what he has seen. "Tottenham are a good team and we saw it in the group stage against Inter, especially when they won at home," he said. "However, it could have been much worse for us considering the teams we could have faced.
"Still, we know we will need two great games to qualify because all the teams in the round of 16 are strong. Tottenham did particularly well in the group stage and can be very dangerous especially at home."
Matches against English teams in the competition elicit mixed emotions for Milan, who avenged their haunting 2005 UEFA Champions League final defeat by Liverpool FC with victory over the Reds two years later.
They also won the 2003 final on English soil against Juventus at Old Trafford. Last season they crashed out at this stage 7-2 on aggregate against Manchester United FC, but Milan director Umberto Gandini is looking forward to a return to England.
"It's great to go and play in England," he said. "There is a special atmosphere at White Hart Lane like there is at all grounds in England. They're very serious opponents who are well coached by Redknapp. Everybody is asking me about Gareth Bale, but it's not only Bale; there's Van der Vaart, Crouch and many others. They're an attacking team and it will be a great game."
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