Tottenham Hotspur put in a classy display at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night earning themselves a point, which was enough to see them qualify for the next round of Europe’s premier club competition, owing to Inter Milan sharing the spoils with PSV at home.
The result was a monumental moment for the club particularly considering how close Spurs were to going out of the competition a month ago. Here are the five things we learned from Tottenham’s performance:
The term ‘spursy’ is a thing of the past
With their gutsy performance at the Camp Nou yesterday, this Tottenham side have once again proved that they have tremendous grit. Yes, the critics would point out that we still haven’t won a trophy, but spurs teams of old would have crumbled after going 1-0 down in what was billed as a must-win game. However, it’s clear that Pochettino’s spurs are made of sterner stuff. Even when it looked like it might not be our day with Jasper Cillessen having a blinder in the Barca goal, we still kept persevering and creating chances, until the goal finally arrived.
Moussa Sissoko is the real deal
Ladies and gentlemen, I think it might finally be time to admit that Moussa Sissoko isn’t just having a purple patch but rather that we are finally seeing the real version of him. The 29-year-old Frenchman didn’t put a foot wrong against Barcelona, aggressively winning the ball back on several occasions and kick-starting attacks. Additionally, in a night when he was up against a midfield of Arthur, Ivan Rakitic and Carles Alena as well as Busquets for the entirety of the second half, Moussa’s touch and decision making had to be perfect, and it certainly was. He also slotted in at right-back for last half hour of the game and looked like he had been playing there all his life. Literally, no Spurs fan the world over would have believed you if you had told him or her before the start of the season that Sissoko would become one of our most important players but that is exactly what he is at the moment. Who needs Bale when you’ve got Sissoko?
We can be braver in terms how we set up
One area where Tottenham’s squad is really strong is in the attacking midfield department with Eriksen, Lamela, Son, Dele, and Moura, all putting in great performances in different games this season. So far this season, Pochettino has usually set the team up with either 2 or 3 the aforementioned 5 players behind Kane in a 4-3-3 or a diamond respectively.
While he started with Son, Eriksen, and Dele on Tuesday night, as the game went on, he decided to throw caution to the wind and bring on Lamela, Lucas, and Fernando Llorente, leaving us with Eriksen as the deepest lying midfielder towards the latter stages of the game. Considering this was a really risky move that could have seen us being hit on the counter, particularly with Messi on the pitch, what actually happened is that we started completely monopolizing possession and Barca found it impossible to handle our movement in the final third. In fact, the goal we scored, which saw us pass the ball around all the way from Lloris, through midfield into the left channel, before it was squared for Lucas to tap it in, was a testament to the fact that Barcelona were chasing shadows for the majority of the last half hour of the game. Pochettino and the Tottenham coaching staff would have surely learned from this and would probably be more willing to make similar changes fairly early the next time we find ourselves chasing a game.
We have a strong squad
In the age of social media, fans often tend to mindlessly repeat the same talking points despite ample evidence to the contrary. One such talking point that is Tottenham have a great starting eleven but a weak squad and would struggle if we have injuries. So far this season, the likes of Son, Dele, Eriksen, Dembele, and Vertonghen have all missed a considerable amount of games but that hasn’t stopped us from winning games.
Even against Barcelona, hardly any ‘pundit’ or ‘expert’ noted that we were missing Davinson Sanchez, Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama, as well as our two main right backs in Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier. Despite this, we were not only able to name a strong line-up but also bring on top players from the bench to influence the game. Of course, there are areas in the squad that need to be strengthened but make no mistake about it – This is one of the strongest squads Tottenham have had for a while.
We can go far in this year’s competition
Even the most optimistic of Spurs fans wouldn’t have given us a chance of progressing to the knock-out stages of the competition, when we found ourselves bottom of the group with one point heading into the final 15 minutes of the game against PSV at Wembley. However, not only did we managed to turn that game around but we also overcame Inter with a performance in which we displayed tremendous tactical maturity, before going to Barcelona and getting a result. Having performed so well at the Camp Now and already having put in competent displays at the Bernabeu and Allianz Stadium last season, this Spurs team will believe they are capable of beating any team in Europe over two legs.
While we can now focus on the Premier League and the cup competitions for the next couple of months, there is no doubt that Spurs fans will be extremely excited about the prospect of having Champions League football at the new stadium soon and will be eagerly awaiting the last sixteen draw on Monday
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