Our point against reigning champions Real Madrid at the Bernabéu in last nights Group H Champions League encounter shows how far Mauricio Pochettino’s team have come, writes Adam Bate for Sky Sports.
The article starts by saying that Real Madrid are more than merely defending champions, that they are the only team to have won the competition in back-to-back seasons in the Champions League era, a team so good they are favourites to become the first for over 40 years to win the European Cup three times in succession. Bate emphasises The Bernabéu is not a place to go with a patched-up side and that’s exactly what Mauricio Pochettino had to do.
It goes on to talk about the travelling supporters (who were amazing) roaring with delight when the draw was sealed and that while Madrid did have more possession and more shots, Spurs also had chances to win it too. Keylor Navas, the Madrid stopper, pulled off two fine saves to deny efforts from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane.
The article continues saying that even though Harry Kane may have been denied his big moment, he did play his part in the opener, his run causing Raphael Varane to turn the ball into his own net, and his miss was not the story of the night.
Bate enthuses that the result was a triumph for the club and quotes Harry Kane’s sentiments afterwards as summing it up. “It shows how far we have come as a team,” he said. “It shows we can handle it at that level”
He gives much praise to Mauricio Pochettino for coming up with a plan to stop Zinedine Zidane’s side running riot, and that plan was to try something new – starting Fernando Llorente up front alongside Kane for the first time in a 5-3-2 formation that saw Jan Vertonghen deployed at left wing-back and young Harry Winks line up in the heart of the midfield.
Llorente did justify his inclusion believes Bate, not only occupying the defenders to allow Kane to roam free, but creating both of the aforementioned openings for his team as well as going close to winning a first-half penalty too.
The article also points out the fine display from Moussa Sissoko who is “belatedly enhancing his reputation with the fans”.
It continues saying with Borussia Dortmund’s failure to defeat APOEL in Nicosia, that even if Madrid do beat us at Wembley, Mauricio and his players are on course for the last 16 anyway, which is the logical next step for this group of players, this manager and the club and Pochettino knows it.
“Last season we could not compete at this level,” the article quotes Poch saying afterwards. “This type of performance must help us to believe more, and to trust in ourselves.”
It also says that Pochettino stressed that Spurs are “still a work in progress” but the gap between them and the finished article is not as big. “We are still a very young team,” he added. And Bate agreed ending his piece by saying “But Tottenham are coming of age now.”
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