Spurs continued to match Real Madrid in their Champions League group as they took away a point from the current champions home.
In the eight years since 2009 Real Madrid haven’t lost a group game in the CL at the Santiago Bernabeu, before last night’s visit of Spurs they’d only dropped four points from two draws.
So when people – media people – use the phrase “park the bus”, it shows what they always seem to be fighting against. The Spurs of old wouldn’t have fought very well.
It was seven years ago that they last played Madrid in Madrid, that night didn’t go well. But that campaign was kicked into life on a visit to the then reigning champions, Inter Milan, bizarrely in a loss.
Gareth Bale’s second half hat trick, after Spurs had been four goals and one man down gave the team belief, which led to the thumping they gave Inter in the return fixture.
A one all draw against the free flowing champions of the last three competitions should give them that belief.
It was a game pretty much like the group opener against Dortmund. The opposition having the ball, having chances but Spurs being dangerous on the break.
Unlike that game Spurs weren’t exactly at full strength. While Madrid may have been without Bale injuries and suspensions meant Spurs were missing a left-back and a midfield. Vertonghen took on the left sided defensive duties as at the weekend, Dier dropped into the back three.
Which meant all that was left for the middle of the park was Winks and Sissoko.
Pochettino springing the surprise of playing two up front, with Llorente alongside Kane, well a little behind. Made sense mind what with the Spanish international having some experience of the ground and Madrid.
It was a decision that worked.
So Madrid had the ball and chances, like they do against pretty much every every side that rocks up to their ground. Ronaldo’s header, Benzema’s but Spurs took the lead. Aurier’s excellent cross and you thought Kane had done it again but he’d just put Varane off enough for the Frenchman to score in his own net.
Aurier played his part in the equaliser, just as it looked like Spurs had held on until the break. Another slide tackle from the Ivorian. Kroos was through on goal, if it had come off it would have been one of the great tackles, it didn’t.
Aurier was getting the usual stick, I was waiting for the myth of Walker to start appearing but he’d been involved in his own penalty for City in another of his gormless displays.
I don’t suppose Ronaldo misses many penalties, Hugo doesn’t seem to save many. He didn’t here but he more than made up for it with the type of saves that if made by de Gea would have BT, Sky etc creaming themselves.
For the rest of the game Aurier was outstanding, whether getting the ball away from his own area, through good play not just hoofing and humping – no, movement and triangles – and in attack. One glorious cross in the second half should have been met by someone. Back post, near post, someone should have been there for a tap in.
That’s maybe the one downside to the night. They could have won it, if they had been as clinical at certain times as in the Dortmund game then it could have been an historical night.
It took a good save by Navas to deny Harry a goal that barring August you’d put your house on him scoring. There was also a save from Eriksen. The Dane being the one player that really didn’t shine on the night. Is he showing the effects of a number of games for club and country?
He had the space he just didn’t have the touch, that space probably helped Winks have his best game. Like Davies the more he starts the more he plays the better he’ll get.
I haven’t half seen some overreaction to Sissoko”s performance, I suppose when you set the bar so low this amounts to a stunning display. One move though highlighted everything, a glorious back heel over his head to take the ball in stride followed by a run forward where you could tell he hadn’t a clue what to do, so he ballooned the cross to no one.
It matched two similar runs at the weekend when they could have finished off Bournemouth, instead of having to hang on. Gives with one hand, takes with the other.
Danny Rose made his first appearance for some time, first since his little outburst in the media. Apparently he was happy with his reception, a little worried he might not get a warm greeting. Well if the rumours of his threat to strike, twice, are true, he may find things will change.
It was one of Pochettino’s head scratching subs, Rose for Llorente, with the former going into the middle of the park, not to left-back. With Spurs launching balls away from the danger area the Spaniard you’d think would have been better employed staying on.
But then in the end Pochettino didn’t put a foot wrong… and now two games on the trot without Harry scoring, not just a one man team…