Tottenham Hotspur Vs. AC Milan: UEFA Champions League, Defending the 4-3-3

LECCE ITALY - JANUARY 16: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Milan celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between Lecce and Milan at Stadio Via del Mare on January 16 2011 in Lecce Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

If AC Milan line up as we all expect them to, it will be up to Tottenham Hotspur's back four to defending the attacking triumvirate of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, and Pato. The question is, what's the best way to do this?

Obviously the best, and simplest, way to do this is to have fullbacks that are effective defenders on the wider players. Benoit Assou-Ekotto should do well, especially with the defensive help of either Gareth Bale or Steven Pienaar. It's on the right flank where Spurs will be particularly vulnerable. Robinho will likely spend most of his time on the right and he will give whoever plays fullback there fits.

The product of the inability to defend Robinho with a fullback will be one of the central defenders having to move out wider to support the fullback. This will leave the other center defender matched up one-on-one with Ibrahimovic, which is not necessarily a matchup in Spurs favor.

In Milan, Sandro and Wilson Palacios did an effective job of acting as a shield in front of the defense, dropping in to fill the gaps and also preventing runs by the central midfielders. For Spurs to succeed at White Hart Lane the same thing must happen or Clarence Seedorf and the other Milan midfielders will be able to exploit the holes in Tottenham's backline.

This game, for both teams, will come down to who wins the battles on the flanks. Spurs are playing at home and are leading the tie, but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous.

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