Jake Livermoreâ€™s late header earned Tottenham a 1-1 draw against Barcelonaâ€™s second string, which capped off a great week for the 19 year-old Midfielder, who put pen to paper on a new contract this week.
Despite the Wembley Cup being a â€œfriendlyâ€ tournament this tie seemed very attractive when advertised so I did expect there to be as many as the 57,000 that filled the impressive Wembley. Before the game the likes of Messi and Henry were seen getting off the team bus on the big screens as the anticipation of seeing such players suddenly grew inside the stadium and the question of how our makeshift defensive line would cope would soon be posed.
However this was not to be, as the Barcelona line-up boasted only a few well known names and Messi and Henry were not included (Surely to the delight of Huddlestone and Corluka!). Although this was somewhat of a disappointment, (as Iâ€™m sure a fair few neutrals travelled just to see the Barcelona stars), the outlook suddenly changed on the game leaving myself and the fans seated next to me thinking â€œWe can win this.â€
As soon as the game kicked off this thought or even dream of us beating Barca looked far from reality as their reserves/ youngsters mixed in with the experience and class of YaYa Toure, Bojan Krkic and Eidur Gudjonson dominated possession and looking composed and full of quality they kept the ball for majority of the opening period.
The work rate of our players seemed to be there to be fair to them with Oâ€™hara harassing and chasing down their defenders early on, and Defoe doing his best as the isolated front man to challenge for these hopeless long balls we were putting forward. However with a 4-5-1 formation that Redknapp adopted this was not the sort of football many Spurs fans are going to appreciate and accept. As a Tottenham fan Iâ€™m going to be biased and say we have the makings of a great side but we have got to be realistic and believe that we have no chance beating ANY decent side with a bit ofÂ height with the team and formation we put out. Defoe, Lennon , Modric all great playersâ€¦â€¦but wouldnâ€™t look out of place on a Lord of the Rings film set with the Hobbits! So why we insist on playing hopeful long balls to them so the likes of Yaya Toure can casually pluck it out the sky is beyond me.
This was the way the game continued for much of the first half until on 32 minutes Toureâ€™s powerful run accompanied with some missed tackles from Palacios then Corluka eventually presented Bojan with a simple finish in the area to give the Catalan side a deserved lead.
In reply we managed to get the ball to Lennon a bit more who looked to have the beating of the French International Abidal, but our best chanceâ€™s came when a Modric shot deflected onto the bar which was shortly followed up by a half volley from Ekotto, which was in truth comfortably tipped over by the Keeper which concluded the action for the first half.
Four subs were made at the interval and Harry had seen what we had noticed in that the 4-5-1 was hopeless, which called for Keanes arrival. With Keane on the pitch nothing much seemed to have changed with Barcelonaâ€™s 11 substitutes stroking the ball around Wembley with class and composure as our small front men leapt and chased hopeful balls.
However their was three positives Harry can take from this game, firstly that our new signing
Kyle Naughton who was introduced at half time looks a very competent right back, along with Corluka also impressing despite his part in their goal. Secondly never to play 4-5-1 unless youâ€™ve got a big target man- ever again! Finally the introduction of Bostock and Livermore did seem to lift us and they both looked sharp, surely filling Harry and Spurs fans with some confidence that the club could have a bright future.
It was indeed Livermore who clinched the draw late on for spurs after a deep cross was sent in from left flank which saw the young midfielder throw himself bravely towards the rushing keeper to glance his header into the right side of the net giving the Spurs fans something to cheer about.
Despite the game being a drab affair, I had to remind myself that we were playing Barcelona and a side that probably included many players that will go on to be world stars, so not getting beaten is also a positive that can be taken from this. Next we play Celtic and I will be looking for a much improved display and watching how our backline cope, as they could hold the key to how well we start the new campaign with our big name defenders looking doubtful to make the first game.
By Simon Lindsay
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