out of 180.
The Champions League is over this season for Spurs, a couple of minutes of taking their eye off the ball costs Spurs as Juventus came from behind to with 4-3 on aggregate.
Nine minutes in the first game, three in the second, was the difference, the rest of the game bar the odd moment Spurs dominated the two times recent finalists. But just dropped off for those fleeting moments, which in the second leg ultimately cost them.
Of course the usual suspects are claiming Spurs “bottled” it again. Yes, the team managed by a bloke overseeing his eighth CL game with players that have played a similar number of games in the competition “bottled” it against Juventus, managed by a man leading his team for the 75th time, a team full of seasoned pros in the top competition.
Yes they were ahead but they were also behind. Did Juventus “bottle” that first game?
Ahead after a great start to the game, the exact opposite to the first leg. Got the ball, got forward and got at ’em, from the off. Poch had a big choice to make, go with Lamela as he had done in the first game or go with Son, who had rediscovered his form. He went with the Korean and it was the good choice. OK, we don’t know how Lamela would have fared but Son completely destroyed Barzagli.
He was running rings around the old man of the Old Lady. So much that the old bloke should have seen red, a disgraceful stamp on Son, not once, not twice but thrice. Somehow the ref missed the three reds he should have handed out there.
To be fair he and his team missed the penalty that should have been given against Vertonghen. The defender didn’t make any contact with the ball while tackling Costa. The Brazilian took an extra step after the contact before going down which may have helped Spurs out.
But it was Son that opened the scoring shortly before half-time. He could have opened it earlier with a good chance, as could Kane when he found the side netting. After some good build up fro Kane, then Eriksen, Dele was blocked in the box the ball falling to Trippier his first time crass across the face of goal found Son and teh Korean expertly hit the ball off the ankle of his standing leg to confuse Chiellini and Buffon to loop in.
It was a well deserved lead, deservedly scored by Son. He scores important goals, openers, equalisers and winners. He doesn’t indulge in what I call “Walcott goals”, the fourth of five, or a hat-trick of the last three in a 7-1 game.
He was kicked from pillar to post all night. His legs must be black and blue this morning. And that seemed the Juve plan.
I didn’t think Kane touched the ball in the first half without being fouled while Dele , Eriksen and Dembele were all on the end of some rough stuff but Son got the worst of it. It came as a shock to most that someone in yellow didn’t see red. But then along with Champions League experience they have this type of experience as well. Who doesn’t remember when this was the standard routine of your average Italian team in Europe?
It was meant to disrupt and unsettle and rattle. It did the former, I don’t know how much unsettling it did but no one was that rattled. Maybe they should have complained more, the Spurs players that is, Juve’s lot did quite enough.
Things changed in the second half when Allegri shifted Barzagli away from Son and introduced Lichtsteiner. There’s not much in age between the two but the Swiss got forward and that alongside Costa on that side of the pitch caused problems. His cross into the box was headed on to the unmarked Higuain for the equaliser.
That lifted them and Spurs for once dropped off. That dropping off led to the winner on the night and overall. They Juve play the ball out from the back with ease, one turn from Higuain and his pass saw Dybala through. Trippier had his hand up for offside but Davies with one eye on Costa was playing him on. Saw some saying Walker would have made a difference, what like he did against Wigan? Also Rose was mentioned, obviously only by those that haven’t actually watched him play recently. Also Sanchez, well as pointed out previously he’s only 21 and this is really only his second full season playing.
Poch is getting criticised for this defeat. Well, he made the right decision to play Son that worked but yes he is too slow with substitutions but when could he have made the substitutions to address the problem?
Was there a need for a change just before they scored the first? No, probably not.
Was there a need to make a change after they score? Probably but they scored withing three minutes of that first, you gotta get a player stripped and ready and then get him on. Was there even a break in play, apart from straight after that first goal, to get a substitution in? If there was, what chance a fresh player would have been up to speed to stop the next one?
Yes I would have liked to have seen Moura on running at a Juve defence with a few yellow cards between them but who for? In the dying seconds Kane’s header either goes in off the post or hits Buffon and goes in, or Lamela can get a touch, to equalise it goes to extra time and is Pochettino getting the stick? Is it Poch’s fault they scored with the only two shots they had on goal?
Those calling for Poch to be criticised for this and claiming he’s untouchable should remember where Spurs were before he arrived, we weren’t sad at losing in the knockout stage of the Champions League after dominating Juventus, we were angry about the team not turning up, against a side that aren’t technically in Europe, in a Europa League loss.
Son’s post match interview sums up Spurs fans all over…
You can tell how much it means to him, it’ll mean as much to the lot of ’em. THere’s two things to play for now, to return to this stage next year and a shiny silver cup. Have to lift themselves back up and get back on that unbeaten run to achieve both. Do that and this will be just a disappointment, don’t and you know how the media will react. I mean, it’s not like Man U or Liverpool will be accused of bottling the league like Spurs have been the past couple of seasons, even though Spurs got closer and weren’t actually top of the table.