Allegri: Spurs better than just Bale
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri expects Tottenham to be a difficult proposition on Tuesday night even without Gareth Bale, who misses the first leg of the Champions League second-round tie due to injury.
Bale is well known in the Italian city having scored a hat-trick at the San Siro as Tottenham were defeated 4-3 by Inter in the group stages of the competition, and he gave Brazil right back Maicon a torrid time in the return fixture at White Hart Lane, which Spurs won 3-1.
A back injury has prevented Bale from travelling to Italy for the first leg against Milan, depriving Spurs of their driving force down the left wing, but Allegri believes there is more to Harry Redknapp's side than the Wales star.
"In their last games, Tottenham have done well even in Bale's absence," Allegri said at a press conference on Monday. "They're an organised, pacy team, formed by technically gifted individuals. It's a Champions League last-16 encounter; it will be very difficult, also because in total it will last 180 minutes."
Allegri joined Milan over the summer and, strengthened by the high-profile signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, has transformed the Rossoneri into Italy's preeminent side once more.
Milan currently lead Serie A by three points from Napoli, but Allegri is now determined to shift focus to the Champions League and attempting to ensure the club are named champions of Europe for the eighth time.
"We've been first in Serie A for 13 rounds and it's normal that people talk about the championship, also because there was a long break in the Champions League," he said. "Now, however, the Champions League is about to resume and it's a great motivating force for the club.
"Seeing that Milan were eliminated in the last-16 the last couple of years, we'll have to give our all in order to advance. I think Milan's objective can't be other than going as far as possible in the Champions League. First, we need to advance from this round, knowing that it won't be easy. Europe's finest are still in the running, so you can't afford having off matches."
While Spurs ponder the absence of Bale, Milan have injury problems of their own in midfield with the masterful Andrea Pirlo, captain Massimo Ambrosini and former Tottenham man Kevin-Prince Boateng all injured. Meanwhile, January signing Mark van Bommel is cup-tied having represented Bayern Munich in the competition.
That means Clarence Seedorf, winner of the Champions League with three different sides, is expected to start, while Brazilian defender Thiago Silva could once again be asked to play in an advanced role.
"Seedorf? He's likely to play, because, apart from the injuries, we'll also have to do without our January signings in the Champions League," Allegri said.
"[Gennaro] Gattuso, Seedorf, [Mathieu] Flamini, [Alexander] Merkel and [Marek] Jankulovski are available in midfield and also Thiago Silva can be an option in front of the defence. I'll make a decision on the line-up later today. Either [Massimo] Oddo or [Ignacio] Abate will play at right back. Whoever will play will be ready for a great game. Abate has recovered, while Oddo has done well in recent matches."