Tottenham 1-0 A.C. Milan: Spurs just signed a sponsorship deal with Under Armor. Fittingly, they must only protect the house to reach the quarterfinals. The away goal is huge, though that advantage is erased should they concede. Their recent defending must concern them. Tottenham allowed six goals in their last two league matches, to write-offs Wolves and Blackpool. Milan should have some space, but can they exploit it?
Historically, the Italian giants have little success in England. They have one win in 14 European matches there, a 1-0 triumph against Man United in 2005. They have not scored in four of their last five meetings with English clubs. Milan have the talent up front to buck precedent, but their midfield of doddering old men isn’t robust enough to play at a high tempo, or even a perceptible tempo. Without Andrea Pirlo there’s a stunning dearth of creativity. The Italians also have to keep Tottenham out of their own net, with a vulnerable, creaky defense.
Gareth Bale won’t start, which benefits Milan, but the Italians won’t muster the vitality to take advantage. Fourteen Champions League teams have entered the second leg with a 1-0 lead. Thirteen advanced to the next round.
Schalke 1-1 Valencia: Valencia are the stronger team. They have also been road warriors this season. They have an 8-3-2 road record in the Premier Liga, with two of the losses against Barca and Real Madrid. They are undefeated away in the Champions League, earning a hard fought draw at Old Trafford.
Schalke has been ludicrously inconsistent domestically. To give you an idea, they’ve beaten Bayern Munich twice, but are winless with just two points from five matches against clubs in the German relegation zone. Their efforts earned manager Felix Magath a dislike button. That said, they’ve been solid in Europe, especially at home, with three wins by a combined score of 8-1.
This seems too close to call. Would not be surprised if it finishes 1-1 again and goes to penalties.
[Photo via Getty]