Tottenham are in town tomorrow for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against AC Milan, who will face a team that suddenly finds itself in an emergency.
La Gazzetta dello Sport recall that Rodrigo Bentancur’s season is over with a torn anterior cruciate in his left knee while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Yves Bissouma will also be unavailable for the game, which comes after a 4-1 defeat at struggling Leicester.
Antonio Conte will have to rally the troops, given that captain Hugo Lloris and left-back Ryan Sessegnon will also be missing. He will stick with the 3-4-2-1 but has no alternatives in the midfield, as the only central midfielders he has available are Oliver Skipp and Pape Sarr, both young and barely used so far.
The only alternative may be to move Eric Dier forward into the role he started with, but the 29-year-old has become the mainstay of the back three and isn’t in the best of form himself either.
Former Atalanta man Cristian Romero returns though and he is fundamental in defence, though the feeling is that Conte will lean on Harry Kane again who is the focal point of a trident that also features Heung-Min Son and ex-Juventus man Dejan Kulusevski, with Richarlison on the bench.
Saturday’s 4-1 loss against Leicester in the Premier League was a rude awakening a week after the 1-0 home win over Manchester City, the only victory of the season for Conte’s team against one of the other ‘top seven’ teams in the league (including Newcastle).
However, Spurs are hoping for some confidence from their trip to Italy having reached the last 16 of the Champions League after winning their group in their last game in Marseille, one in which they risked elimination.
To win the first leg, Milan must exploit Tottenham’s problems in the middle of the pitch. Conte is very demanding with his centre-backs, but Skipp and Sarr are a young and improvised pairing that Stefano Pioli put as much pressure on as possible.
Then, Dier comes from a horrible performance and could feel the heat too, and the main danger is obviously Kane. If the striker is almost impossible to stop, the Rossoneri will have to try to limit Son, who hasn’t lived up to his reputation as one of the world’s best wingers all season.
Kulusevski is a well known opponent now given his time at Juve, while Ivan Perisic on the left has a great track record against Milan. A battle for the right wing-back spot should be contested between Emerson Royal and Pedro Porro, where Tottenham could have their weak side.