Conte reveals why he thinks Spurs ‘struggled’ in first-half against Marseille

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Antonio Conte
(Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Antonio Conte believes his players struggled to win their personal duals in the first half against Marseille.

Tottenham got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start, with Richarlison getting both of the home side’s goals in the 2-0 win after the Ligue 1 club had a man sent off at the start of the second half.

However, Conte’s men struggled to create any chances of note in the first half as Igor Tudor’s men dominated possession until the interval.

The Spurs head coach admitted that the red card made things easier for the Lilywhites but insisted that the most important thing was getting three points on the board.

Conte told Football.London: “Marseille is a really good team, really strong physically. They try to win all the duels in every area of the pitch.

“I think the first half we struggled a bit in these type of duels and maybe only once we kept the ball and attacked the space and shoot with Harry.

“The second half we did this much better, started very well with this type of situation, Sonny attacked the space and it was a red card. The game changed.

“I tried also to create difficulty for Marseille with the substitutions. We forced a lot really offensively with Deki and Perisic, then changed the central defenders with fresh central defenders to push, with Japhet Tanganga one side and Davies.

“In the end, we got the three points, very important for us to start this competition in the best possible way, it’s really important.”

The 2-0 defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was Marseille’s first defeat of the season, with the French club having won five and drawn one of their six Ligue 1 games so far.

Conte insisted that neither he nor his players were surprised by how the visitors approached the game and the quality they showed.

He added: “We knew very well the quality and the team that is Marseille. When we started to prepare the game through the video and on the pitch the situation was very clear.

“I said to my players to pay attention because today you have to do great duels in every zone of the pitch.

“We have to be good to win the duels as when you play against a team like this, if you are able to win the duels, especially with the striker, you have the possibility to have a lot of space to go straight towards the goal.

“In the first half, I didn’t think we did this well very well and Marseille played well. Defensively I think we were good because we conceded only one shot to Guendouzi.

“In the second half, we solved this tactical situation because our striker give the ball and play the ball behind and attack with Son. The red card and then we grew in attack and created chances to score.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Despite dominating possession in the first half, Marseille did not create a single chance of note and I always thought we looked defensively secure.

Throughout the first half, it was clear that all it would take is for Kane or Richarlison to turn their man and that we would be in on goal, given the high line that the Ligue 1 side were playing. However, there is no denying that the red card made our job a lot easier in the second half.

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