There will be plenty of games like this next season in Europe. (Or perhaps fewer than we think/hope, based on this performance) Talented sides with real pedigree in a raucous home atmosphere. Spurs were terribly outclassed—losing by three and it could easily have been five or six.
Poch obviously set the team up to fail with the more important prize still in mind. He couldn’t play Alli, left Dier and the two fullbacks home in London whose pace might have both hindered Dortmund’s attacks and provided some ability to counter, held back his two best attackers until the second half, along with the one player in Lamela who might actually have stood up to the incessant Dortmund thrusts. It wasn’t the wrong decision, but it was a revealing one. He probably hoped if not expected for a closer result and even an away goal.
It is the obvious exposure of multiple players that is the biggest takeaway—underscoring the need for Levy and Pochettino to recruit at least two more midfielders and/or strikers for next season’s European campaign. Tom Carroll and Ryan Mason are simple outclassed at this level—the middle of the field beckoned to the Germans all night long. Kieran Trippier lacks the pace to shut down the precise diagonal balls that time and again opened up Spurs to another ball into the box and chance to score. Son was simply a lost puppy for most of this game, muscled off and away from the ball repeatedly. And Nacer Chadli is simply not a talented enough footballer to compete against a team offering the likes of Reus and Aubameyang. And this was not Christian Eriksen’s type of game, when running backward was more vital than pushing forward, yet to be fair the Dane seemed curiously passive throughout most of the evening—the type of disappearing performance that we grew too accustomed to prior to this year.
We are not ready to compete at the highest level with this squad unless everyone is fit and rested. And how often, particularly by February or March when group stage has ended, can a side expect to be so blessed.
Beat Villa and Bournemouth and the Top Four placement will be virtually assured, the chance to best the Gunners advanced, and the hope of still surpassing the Foxes for all the honors still alive. Forget this one, but not its lesson. Spurs aren’t good enough to match their ambition—but it’s nice not to be fooled about that.
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