It was certainly an entertaining game. Unfortunately, most of the entertainment was, in the end, provided by Barcelona and, of course, the inimitable Lionel Messi. His message to our own dear Harry: you’ve got a long way to go before you’re even close.
They didn’t score for all of two minutes and, to be frank, we absolutely dominated most of that first minute. Granted, I reckon between global warming and a full season of Tottenham football, the old Wembley turf was looking a bit worse for wear but no one expected a sink hole to open up. But into that gulf of class we tumbled like wooden tops.
We were as laborious and unimaginative as they were quick and purposeful. Our great weakness (nothing in midfield) and they transitioned from defence to attack at will; our defence was then exposed – two nil at half time.
Credit to Poch, despite being opened up at will by Messi, we attacked with spirit from the start of the first half. First Harry Kane then Eric Lamela finished with style, and the excellent crowd bellowed their sense of belief. In the end though, the scoreline reflected the status of the two teams. Without some key players, and despite their own vulnerabilities, we couldn’t get to them – they were simply better.
Lloris – 5
He must have hated that evening’s work on his return. He made little positive contribution, no saves of note, just kept picking the ball out of the net. Rarely have I seen a keeper go so completely missing, as he did for their first goal.
Trippier – 5
Worked hard. Didn’t really look likely to contain the likes of Coutinho. Nice to see he has a pivotal role around the dead ball.
Alderweireld – 5
The first goal seemed to come through his positioning, being turned. The last resulted from the collapse of his one man marauding mission on the opposition box. At times, we were all at sea defensively. The spaces in the centre of defence and the lack of relationship between himself and Sanchez were alarming. Vertonghen emerges by default as the key to the defence. In this instance, Toby wasn’t able to assert sufficient leadership. Nevertheless, in the first half, without a midfield presence, his way of cutting out those middle men with raking passes became practically our only playing strategy.
Sanchez – 4
He needs more time at a less demanding level than this. Poch swapped him and Toby in the second half, the better to deal with Messi (?) – ha! ha! But his range of passing is so limited and predictable, he draws pressure onto himself. He looked out of his depth against players of this quality, not necessarily a massive criticism, just a fact.
Davies – 4
Rose, it would appear, is resurgent. He isn’t Rose.
Wanyama – 4
Everyone was clumsy, managing to give the ball away, but he did that and very little else. No one in the centre of the park took responsibility for making the game but he was the senior player there. As Barcelona once again poured through midfield untroubled, Poch had had enough – he was first to be hooked.
Winks – 5
Winks isn’t yet strong enough to assert control when the game is running away from the team. Once Dier came on and some sense of order was restored, he came to life enthusiastically, with commitment and drive. He has to learn to be the player that generates that belief himself.
Lucas – 5
Had some bright moments but in the hurried play around him was a peripheral figure for much of the game.
Lamela – 8
My man of the match. In the first half … he tried. He made space, ran, tackled, urged the team forward, hey, even got himself booked. In the second, when we were breaking to effect, most of the thrust came from him. He took his goal with aplomb. I hope he’s not badly injured – we’re running out of players.
Son – 5
Always willing but really provided little threat. When he did, he was usually already off side by that stage.
Kane – 7
Oh, the belief he brought to 80,000 souls when he scored. When you’re being outplayed, it takes some player to defy evidence to the contrary and impose himself in the box the way he did. He also held up the ball and passed beautifully at times as he got drawn further and further out from the goal as the second half wore on.
It says something: actually relieved to see Dier come on. In the end, it didn’t materially affect things. Sissoko came on and did what Sissoko does: gets willingly stuck and then, when some actual footballing skill is required, skies his shot into the higher tiers. Llorente came on and naturally suffered in comparison with the man he replaced – Lamela.
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