Opinion: A night of renewal in Serbia

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Image: SpursWeb

There we are. The team we will see for the rest of this season, and some major hints about the years going forward. The future is so bright I think I’ll wear shades!!

Well, let’s calm down. Consider the opposition (though Red Star had lost only 2 of 23 games in Belgrade in international competition). Remember that Gazzaniga bailed us out of one bad situation—after some admittedly goofy and random bouncing of the ball—and the post and crossbar prevented another good chance—and Tanguy Ndombele, otherwise brilliant, had one awful giveaway that a better side should have converted into a goal.

That said, there were bright lights all over the pitch. The defence was assured and generally tight throughout. It was Danny’s best game of the year—the capper being a nice run, collecting Kane’s perfect pass and squaring across the six-yard box for Sonny’s second goal. Dier and Sanchez made for a solid and assured center pair—the Englishman may only be used in spot duty  but at least now we know he is still able to perform. Juan Foyth was cool as ice on the right wing, including more assured runs down the flank then either Serge Aurier or Kyle Walker-Peters have been capable of. There’s a reason Argentina have been starting him lately.

If there is one clear conclusion from this game, it is that academy products Walker-Peters and Harry Winks may not see much action for the remainder of this season and now must have their Spurs future in doubt.

The reason for the latter was the dynamic pairing of Ndombele and my MOTM, Giovanni Lo Celso. Particularly in the first half, that duo controlled the game, and with Sissoko doing what Sissoko does in terms of gaining possession, rumbling downfield and moving the ball forward, this was the best overall performance for our central midfield all season. I think Winks is now only going to be an occasional starter in a cup game or if there are injury problems. Truth was our frontline squandered multiple opportunities to expand the lead in the first half—it was a fairly poor game for all three until it wasn’t.

And then there was Kane unluckily hitting the post, Dele pushing to regain possession, Kane firing a ball that Son chested off the post again before Lo Celso finally rammed it home. The second goal was the product of a brilliant run by Ndombele, lay-off to Dele, who in turn found Son all alone.

The third goal began with a perfect Kane through ball to Rose; and the fourth was the product of a nice run by late entrant Ryan Sessegnon and—heavens to Betsy—there was Christian Eriksen with a deflected ball that counts all the same as the others. Of course with the red card rescinded it was great to see Sonny on the scoresheet twice. Even better is the knowledge that a home win guarantees a knockout round—probably a tough opponent given Bayern’s standing atop this group.

Lo Celso. Ndombele. Foyth. Sanchez. Sessegnon. That’s the future. And the front three nor Sissoko nor Gazzaniga are going anywhere soon, so why can’t this squad begin to move up in the league? Baby steps, perhaps. Bring on the sixth place Blades.pau

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