This Europa League campaign has been a bit hit and miss. Some glorious stuff, some lacklustre. Most of it edge of the seat, last second, so you just knew the only way it would go would be penalties.
And you knew it wouldn’t end well.
First up over the two games the best team won. Spurs were better last night than in the first leg, Basel weren’t as good but they didn’t reach the depths of woeful of Spurs in that home tie. It was a fighting display by Spurs but one which again they inflicted much of the woe on themselves.
A comfortable start with the hosts seemingly happy that the pair of away goals would see them through. Things were restrained from Spurs, considering players missing as well as players playing. Don’t know what Benny has done but for AVB to keep playing Naughton at left-back it can’t be good. Added to that the feeling of being a man down with the gift that keeps on giving as a “striker”.
Absolutely hammering it down with rain Vertonghen played a ball straight down the middle that should have either been intercepted by Dragovic or left to his ‘keeper was played nicely into the path of Dempsey who was doing what a striker should do and anticipating things. Not on his heels hiding somewhere. Round the ‘keeper and one nil.
But as soon as Spurs scored they did what they have done too much this season. Try and play about at the back, confident of holding that one goal lead. It didn’t last long and was very predictable when it happened. Some aimless passing resulted in a hopeless ball by Dembele just giving it away. Passed on to Salah who is wide open with Naughton in the Basel half, Friedel came to the six yard line and no further. Far too simple, far too predictable.
The host were as up for it as in the first leg but when their front three clicked they really did look the part, and looked like they score at any time on the break.
Second half didn’t start too well. Just four minutes in and more slack defending from a corner, as in the first game, Friedel just palms the ball at Dragovic’s foot who makes up for his earlier error.
Spurs then toiled but there seemed to be just too much missing. Naughton had a shot but wasn’t helping Sigurdsson on the left who was left two on one a lot and didn’t have the pace to round Basel’s right-back, Degen. AVB made his changes earlier than at the weekend. It was the right move again to introduce Carroll, though don’t know if it should have been for Dembele, who had tried with a nice curling shot that brought one of the few saves from the home ‘keeper. The little youngster showed great composure on the ball and improved things with his passing.
Wasn’t his fault the passing was sometimes to Adebayor. Some people are trying to stick up for Adebayor by claiming his roaming about wide shows his team ethic and work rate. When it isn’t. It’s him hiding. If he’s out wide he doesn’t have to read play, anticipate like Dempsey did earlier. Doesn’t even have to bother about trying to score. Doesn’t really even have to bother about controlling the ball. Which is lucky because a pas to Adebayor isn’t even 50/50. It’s about 80/20 in the oppositions favour. And that’s with his feet, with the head it’s about 99/1.
At times though there was too much passing. A number of occasions those in white with acres of space in front of them chose to pass to no one rather than keep the ball and go forward. They were more likely to pass into space rather than run into it.
Huddlestone’s introduction was a timely removal of Parker, who again offered absolutely nothing either going forward or defensively. With little less than 10 minutes to go he launched one of the very few balls into the Basel box – well if your striker isn’t going to be in there why bother? – which Demspey squirmed via the ‘keeper’s arm into the net. Those screaming about him being crap, were they doing so now?
Spurs were on the up, looking to have far more intent on finishing things before the extra 30 minutes. But again it didn’t last long. As yet again a goal was followed by some awful defending. Streller through the middle, clearish on goal and Vertonghen fouls him. Needlessly. Very poor from the player who seems to be struggling after winning the player of the month award for March. Walker maybe could have caught Strellar but the ref has to give a straight red for that.
It immediately lifted the hosts who were on their knees while deflating Spurs.
Saw out normal time and then saw out 30 minutes of extra time with some dogged defending. That at times looked more secure than when they had 11 men. But it was mostly a case of Spurs humping the ball out for it to come straight back at them. Adebayor even more hopeless, bar a couple of occasions, of holding onto possession.
So to the inevitable. Even with this campaign being a series of last gasp get out of jail moments Spurs haven’t won a penalty shoot out for years and even when they get penalties in games they tend to miss more often than not.
Huddlestone no blame, was a decent enough go, power but just the right height if the ‘keeper goes the right way which he did.
Adebayor on the other hand was as what had gone before so predictable. And inexcusable not matter what those that try and excuse it claim – for one he hadn’t run about for 120 minutes so that can’t be used. Meanwhile Basel were banging theirs in with ease, Friedel only really close to the first one though had little chance of stopping it.
It’s all AVB’s fault. That’s what happens when you take the Europa League seriously, when you don’t treat it with contempt and bin it off as a two bob cup. You create the hope of winning something. Hope of your captain standing there with a trophy held above his head. How dare he give us that hope.
To dare is to do…
We are extremely happy for setting a great example for English football and how to approach this competition. To change the mentality towards this competition from one season to the other is very difficult.They have done it like heroes, played it like heroes because it was never an excuse for underperforming in the Premier League. - Andre Villas Boas
Ten days now to get things back on track, again a break that couldn’t be better timed, thank god Chelsea won that FA Cup quarter final. It would have been tough to go to their place just three days after this game.