Every single Tottenham fan will be wondering how they managed to capitulate the way they did last night. A match which they started very positively eventually turned out to be a depressing affair for the men from North London. Anirudh breaks down what went wrong and why Allegri’s men came out on top in a feisty affair.
Last night, all of us who don’t follow the Serie A witnessed one of the most tactically astute managers change a game offensively with two defensive changes. Lichtsteiner and Asamoah arrived on the scene, pegged both the Spurs Full Backs in, and ran them ragged. Now even though this happened, there were plenty of warning signs for Pochettino as soon as the second half started, and here’s what I think he could have done to prevent another Tottenham bottle job.
In the first half Tottenham were outclassing Juventus all over the pitch. They had more hunger, more desire, Dembele was breaking the press, Eriksen was finding people in space for fun, but they did not kill the game. They could and should have been 3 up at the break. The lack of decisiveness clearly hurt them in the second half.
Allegri started the second half by instructing Paulo Dybala to nullify Eriksen by marking him out of the game. Now this plan worked like a gem, but it was not until around the 55th minute that Juventus started to benefit from the lack of control in the Spurs midfield. More than enough time for Pochettino to spot the amount of space Dier was being given and to give him instructions to exploit the same, or if he deemed he was incapable of doing so, getting Wanyama on the pitch to take control.
Eric Dier proceeded to have a very lazy half and failed to take control of the midfield despite Dembele’s reduced effect. This was perfectly highlighted in him switching off for the first goal which Higuain scored, where he appeared to track his man, but then just lost interest.
Then, once the first goal went in, Spurs lack of a real leader and maturity within the team was on display, with Dybala breaking through the lines to slot home a second in no time. At this point in time, Pochettino and his side had it all to do, but there were substitutions that could have been made.
The plan evidently wasn’t working in the second half, with Spurs giving the ball away cheaply and the Juventus’ press being more prevalent without Dembele to break the press.
However, once the second goal went in,Juventus went into standard Italian defense mode, where nothing got past them. At this point in time, for someone sitting and watching it on their TV, it was evident how narrow they were defending. The decision to bring on Lamela’s trickery, which in all honesty does predominate down the middle over Lucas’ raw pace and natural width was baffling. Every time Spurs put a ball across the face of goal, they looked dangerous, but the only real width was coming from their Full Backs.
Once Spurs started to realise where the space was around the 70th minute mark, and got the ball wide more, the logical change would have been to bring Llorente on. It took Pochettino a little too long to realise that his big target man was on the bench and persisted with the slick passing down the middle instead. And once that change was made, it didn’t particularly make sense that Llorente replaced Alli. If you’re going to hoof the ball into the box, you need someone who’s lethal on the second balls, and that is Dele Alli in a nutshell.
And it was evident once Llorente came on, the amount of a difference he made. Spurs were overloading at the far post and looking more likely to score, and in my opinion would have scored had the substitution come 10 minutes earlier.
So, in all honesty Spurs were the better side in that tie for the most part, but clear lack of experience and mental fragility affected them adversely. That is down to both the manager and the players. Some of the football on display in that first half was good enough to be part of a CL final. One would hope Pochettino goes back to the drawing board and learns from this and passes this hurdle next year.
Giorgio Chiellini vs. Tottenham. [@mbappefutbol]
King Kong. pic.twitter.com/7Ja4f1xJPs
— BTL Comps (@BTLComps) March 7, 2018
Feature Image via The Top Flight
Dybala Image via thenational.ae
Chiellini and Buffon image via Bleacher Report
Chiellini Compilation video by Breaking The Lines