Opinion: A Philippe Coutinho force field

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Truth is, there were at least four Bayern players superior to any Spurs started on that field—and that’s not counting one of the greatest goalkeepers of recent memory. But it was one in particular who maddeningly bossed the game, as if he had said in Portuguese in the tunnel when Jose said hello “I’m going to beat you into the ground tonight”. It was as if there was some force field surrounding their Number Ten—such was the nonexistent defending, particularly from Dier and then also Sissoko in the second half. Passes went right to Gnabry, left to Coman or later Perisic, or finally the Brazilian decided just to go at it himself, with the final goal the logical conclusion.

I am not too exercised about either the lineup or the substitutions. I wish we could have seen Parrott, and that Sissoko might have been rested for Skipp to preserve his energy for a much more important game this Sunday. But those are quibbles. This was a chance for some players to impress their manager and make a case for more playing time. So what did we learn?

Eric Dier was abysmal. Slow, statuesque, bad with the ball on the rare occasions he had possession. Whatever Jose thought he saw or might see, in this particular player has crashed by the reality. I can only hope Tanguy Ndombele is fit enough to battle the likes of Jiminez and Moutinho at Molineux because Dier cannot.

Kyle Walker-Peters was a lost soul. Too small, too weak, too slow, and hopelessly out of position time and time again. Surely Foyth might have just emerged as second choice at right-back behind Aurier—and help must be on the way.

Danny Rose continues to be a shell of the player we saw as recently as two years ago. He was far too narrow, and when he had the chance to either close a man down or reacquire possession, far too inconsistent at either. Vertonghen will play at left-back until Davies becomes fit again, which sounds like it might not be until January at the earliest.

Foyth and Aldeweireld made for a decent centre back pairing. The mistakes were made in front and to the side of them. When given the chance both were pretty adept at clearances and coverage. A few semi-spectacular saves by Gazzaniga kept the first half score at two rather than the three or four the Germans deserved.

Sissoko was knackered—played adequately in the first half and increasingly poorly by the second. He was at fault on the final goal.

Eriksen was no different tonight than he’s been for months now. Nothing remotely close to his former form—he did make a couple of nice passes to set Son free in the final ten minutes.

Lo Celso disappointed overall, I thought, though his energy was high and the effort was strong. Jose says he hasn’t clicked yet—tonight he didn’t either.

Lucas was moored in an untenable position given our inability to play a ball out of our own end with anything but a Gazza goal kick—he can’t win headers against defenders 8-9 inches taller than him.

And Ryan Sessegnon showed us all what we thought he had coming—a great finish and some genuine threat, particularly in the first half when we actually did put occasional pressure on Bayern.

On to Wolves—it’s a game which matters. And I’m hoping we draw Juve on Monday—we owe them one.

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