HARRY REDKNAPP fears that 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 tonight.
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.
“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 tonight, with Modric likely to be ruled out with a leg injury.
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.”
Meanwhile, Mikael Silvestre insisted yesterday he was 100% focused on being a success at Werder Bremen and not on proving Arsenal wrong as he prepares for his Champions League debut for his new club.
Silvestre left the Emirates when his contract expired during the summer amid reports his frustration at a lack of game time had boiled over.
But, ahead of the clash with Spurs, the 33-year-old sidestepped questions about whether there was any lingering resentment over his departure.
“There must be a reason Sol Campbell, William Gallas and myself all left the club,” he said. “But it’s not the place to discuss that. I’m just happy for Arsenal to continue the way they do.
“I still watch their results and highlights because I care about my (former) team-mates and the staff. I had a good time there, I’m not going to complain. Now I’m focusing on Werder 100%.”
Silvestre got his chance in the Bremen side following injuries to Per Mertesacker and Naldo, with head coach Thomas Schaaf deciding to field him in the centre of defence rather than at left-back.
That should see him come up against Peter Crouch tonight, and he said of the beanpole striker: “He’s got the height to climb above any defender in the world.
“But his quality will be his position in the box because it’s not only about being taller – you have to be at the right place at the right moment.
“Peter Crouch, because he’s not fast and he’s less skilful than the other players, he’s less rated.
“But it’s always dangerous to play against him.”
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