Conte reveals why Spurs did not press in first half against Leeds and why he changed tactics at half-time

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Antonio Conte
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Antonio Conte has admitted that he was forced into making tactical changes at half-time against Leeds after Marcelo Bielsa’s men dominated proceedings in the first 45 minutes.

Conte’s first Premier League home game as a Tottenham boss did not get off the best of starts as the Lillywhites struggled to get a footing into the game for much of the first half.

Leeds completely dominated proceedings and deserved took the lead just before the interval.

However, Spurs came out a completely different side in the second half as they pressed and harried their opponents up the pitch.

Conte’s men managed to turn the result around that the Italian’s reaction at the full-time whistle certainly showed how relieved and delighted he was.

Speaking about the importance of the result, the Spurs boss told Football.London: “Yes, we celebrated the win because I think it was a difficult win but we knew this. I read the stats of Leeds and Leeds was the first team to bring high intensity and to run.

“In the first half we struggled a lot because they played better than us. They won the tackles, they lead the game, but also because in the first half we conceded too much possession.

“The second half we have changed the plan tactically and we started to put pressure, to go in every area of the pitch to put pressure and we created great difficultly to Leeds.

“We created chances to score goals. We scored two goals, maybe we deserved more goals, but for sure an important win because we needed this.”

Conte admitted that Bielsa got the better of him tactically in the first-half and praised his players for the fight they showed after the interval.

He said: “Yeah, this win is very important. I repeat: we struggle today in the first half and we played two different games. In the first half they beat us on the tactical aspect.

“In the second half we tried the solution to change the game. To play against Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa is not easy. We must be satisfied. This is a point to start for the rest of the season.

“I’m sure that to continue to work in the way we’re working on the tactical, physical and mentality aspects I think we can have good improvement for the rest of the season.”

Conte revealed that he decided not to press Leeds high up the pitch from the start of the game as he was unsure of whether his players would be able to sustain that for 90 minutes.

When asked about the difference in intensity that his side showed in the two halves, he responded: “For sure we need to improve because I like to bring this intensity.I had a bit of perplexity [whether] to use this intensity for the start. I didn’t know if we could bring this intensity for the whole game.

“First half, for sure but it was my decision. We were more compact. We left them to lead the possession. Second half I totally changed the situation and the tactical aspect and also I said to them we had to go, man to man, and play with the same intensity. If we wanted to beat Leeds, we had to beat Leeds at what they’re good at doing.”

Spurs Web Opinion

In hindsight, Conte’s decision to sit off Leeds in the first half before going man-to-man in the second half worked in our favour. Our players had plenty of energy after the interval and were also buoyed by the reaction of the crowd. On the other hand, many of the Leeds’ players evidently tired in the final 30 minutes.

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