Harry Redknapp fears Tottenham will suffer the kind of mauling England endured at the hands of Germany if he goes gung-ho in his side’s Champions League Group A opener at Werder Bremen tomorrow night.
Spurs boss Redknapp is ready to play it safe away from home during what is his side’s debut season in the competition by fielding a lone striker and a five-man midfield at the Weserstadion.
Redknapp got his fingers burnt using 4-4-2 in the play-off round first leg at Young Boys last month, with the Swiss side racing to a 3-0 lead inside 28 minutes.
And he believes the visitors could be in for the kind of beating England took by Germany at the World Cup if he does not bolster his midfield tomorrow.
“At times, especially in Europe, it’s difficult to go away from home and play 4-4-2,” he said.
“We did it last year in the Premier League. We went to Man City late in the season when we needed that vital result to get where we are today.
“But I think it is more difficult the way they (Bremen) play. If they overload midfield tomorrow, you’ll get outnumbered.
“If you play 4-4-2, you’ve got a problem in the middle of the park.
“It’ll be very difficult; you’ll get overrun, a little bit like England did against Germany.”
Redknapp experimented with a five-man midfield in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League game at West Brom, using Luka Modric and new signing Rafael van der Vaart in behind Roman Pavyluchenko.
But he will almost certainly have to break up that partnership tomorrow, with Modric likely to be ruled out with a leg injury.
“He’s still got pain in his leg,” Redknapp said about the problem that forced Modric off at the Hawthorns and needed an x-ray.
“So we’ll have to see how he is this evening.
“I couldn’t take a chance on him unless he feels he’s right.
“To go out there and break him down and then lose him for long-term, it just wouldn’t be right.”
Redknapp was also wary about starting new boys Van der Vaart and William Gallas for the second time four days.
He said of Saturday’s West Brom match: “I think that was Van der Vaart’s first 90 minutes since before the World Cup and William Gallas’ first 90 minutes since the World Cup.
“I think they were both completely wiped out almost by the end of the game on Saturday. It was tough for them.
“It’s whether I feel they’re ready to play a game so quickly.”
Both players boast Champions League experience many of their new team-mates lack.
Bremen, on the other hand, have bags of it under their belt in Europe’s premier club competition.
But Redknapp said: “Experience is very important but it doesn’t really make them favourites.
“Inter Milan would be the favourites to win the group, being the holders.
“After that, it’s very open between the three teams.”
Redknapp revealed he had watched countless videos of tomorrow’s opponents since the draw was made and feels Spurs are capable of taking at least a point off them.
He added: “You don’t want to get beaten – that’s the most important thing - you want to try to get some points on the board.”
Redknapp had been keen in the build-up to the game to play down what managing in the Champions League for the first time would mean to him personally.
But the 63-year-old hinted at how he felt about finally being in the big time, saying: “I go to all the Champions League games that I can get to, in England especially.
“It’s a great competition and the atmosphere’s always top-class.
“It’s a great stadium here and it will be a big night.
“I feel we’ve got good players here that can play on this stage, so we’ve got to go out and prove it now.”
Right-back Vedran Corluka vowed to rise to the challenge.
“It is something new for us but it’s something every player dreams of, to play in the Champions League,” he said.
“This is a game that you can show that you can play against the best squads in Europe.
“I think every player is happy we’re in the Champions League and we’re very confident about the game tomorrow.”