So another slightly unsatisfactory draw for the collection, our third in three attempts in the group. Some comedy defending to go behind, a laugh out loud goal to equalise, lots of possession but little in the way of penetration meant that a point each was probably fair overall.
Maribor sat back as we moved the ball around in front of but never behind them. They broke well occasionally and had the better of what few chances there were. When we went wide, Lennon and Townsend were generally stopped by the first defender (Falque did better when he replaced Townsend at h/t) whilst through the middle, Defoe was outnumbered and in need of support that rarely arrived due to the fact that it was still in England gingerly climbing off the physio’s couch clutching its back. Apparently.
Dembélé and Bale’s stock grows with each game they miss as the paucity of creative flair is exposed in their absence, it was as much the defensive display that set alarm bells ringing though, the relative ease with which various home players stepped past those in white or appeared in space on the flanks was worrying. It is hard to tell from the telly, it may be that we were pushing forward so much that gaps at the back were inevitable, I’m happy to be corrected by those there in person that could see the complete vista.
Moaning about an away draw in Europe seems a tad curmudgeonly, and if we’d got the result we deserved against Lazio or held on in Greece, then this’d be a good point and, especially given the late Panathinaikos equaliser, we’d be laughing at the top of the group. It’s the sluggishness of the performance that’s more disappointing than anything.
We win our matches against Maribor and Panathinaikos; get a draw in Lazio and the likelihood is that we’re through. Anything else and we may be nudged towards the door.
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