Belfast Telegraph

Confident Tottenham have high hopes in Champions League

When the Champions League draw was made at the end of August, pitting Tottenham in the same group as Internazionale, most Spurs followers would doubtless have settled for qualifying for the knockout stage by finishing second to last season's winners.

As they prepare for tonight's final game away to FC Twente, however, winning the section is very much on the cards. What they must do is match Inter's result away to the bottom club Werder Bremen.

The incentive is considerable, for it would mean avoiding Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, all of whom are guaranteed to win their group, as well as the other English clubs, who cannot be drawn together.

As Peter Crouch, the striker who has excelled in Europe while stuttering in the Premier League, put it in relation to the two Spanish masters: “They are the two to avoid. Watching Barcelona the other night, they look incredible and are some side. But the first thing is to be top of the group and that's important for us. We are just enjoying being in the mix and being up against some of the best teams in the world.”

At 4-0 down after 35 minutes of the game in Milan, the idea of finishing in front of Inter on a head-to-head basis appeared laughable.

Yet Gareth Bale cemented his position as a cult figure by scoring a hat-trick in what turned out to be nothing worse than a 4-3 defeat, and on one of White Hart Lane's glory, glory nights a fortnight later the young Welshman was outstanding again in setting up a 3-1 win.

Beating Werder 3-0 in the next game to secure qualification meant that Tottenham's five group matches have produced a total of 23 goals for and against, the highest of any club (Arsenal are next highest with 21).

Add in the qualifying round against Young Boys of Berne, which brought a 3-2 defeat and 4-0 win, and Harry Redknapp can be seen to have lived up to his promise to enter Europe on an attacking ticket.

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