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Tottenham Hotspur vs. AC Milan Preview: Backs against the wall

The tie is far from over, but Spurs must play a lot better to stay in Europe.

AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur: Round of 16 Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The vibes have swung back the other direction, and suddenly Tottenham Hotspur is struggling to keep its head above water. Saturday’s loss to Wolves makes it three defeats in five matches across all competitions, and another poor effort this week would reduce the number of competitions remaining to just one.

Spurs face an uphill battle against AC Milan, who holds a 0-1 lead entering Wednesday, but obviously this score line is not impossible to overcome. Performances like those against Manchester City and Chelsea — also at home, which has been much more favorable than the road — should be enough to take the tie, but those conquests feel like a distant memory.

Now would be a great time to turn things around, though. This season has been up-and-down with frequent consistency, so it would not be too outrageous for Tottenham to go out and put forth a quality effort. Anything less than that, however, means the end of this year’s Champions League campaign.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. AC Milan (Round of 16, 2nd leg)

Date: Wednesday, March 8
Time: 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Paramount+ (USA), BT Sport 1 (UK)

For anyone who (mercifully) has forgotten what transpired at the San kind of looked like the last two matches. Spurs could not generate much offense from Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski, specifically, and a defensive error led to the contest’s only goal. While the Oliver Skipp-Pape Matar Sarr midfield pairing held its own, it was an overall poor evening from the visitors.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg comes back from his yellow card suspension, while Eric Dier goes out due to the same on Wednesday, which might cause some problems if Antonio Conte wanted to go back to Ben Davies at left wingback. Regardless, Emerson Royal is likely to return on the other side, and it feels like Richarlison could start over Son again, though do not be surprised to see all four main attackers on the pitch together if Spurs trail in the second half.

Odds favor Milan advancing, but Tottenham should feel like this is well within reach. It really feels like there is not much else to say; Spurs know the task at hand and supporters have seen this team perform well enough to win comfortably and claim the lead. At the same time, hoping for that feels foolish with how everything is trending, so whether this is yet another lifeless 90 minutes or an encouraging victory is impossible to call.