Tottenham Hotspur   3    Olympiakos (Greece)   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 9th August 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   26,462
Referee :  S. Bennett (Orpington)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

Gomes (Cudicini 46)

Naughton (Chimbonda 46)
King (Corluka 46  )

Bentley (Boateng 67)
Huddlestone (Bostock 80)
O'Hara (Modric 46 [Livermore 79])
Rose (Lennon 46)

Crouch (Pavlyuchenko 46  )
Keane  (c)  (Defoe 46  )

Unused subs: 

Olympiakos (Greece) :

Nikopolidis  (c)  (78  Pardo 46)

Zewlakow (Gonzalez 80)
A Papadopoulos (Pantos 80)
Domi (Raul Bravo 80)

K Papadopoulos

Galletti (Zairi 46)
Maresca (Ledesma 56)
Dudu (G Papadopoulos 65)
Leonardo (Soiledis 88)

Diogo (Mitroglou 56)

Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur



  Olympiakos (Greece)
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Pavlyuchenko  66
Corluka  69
Defoe  78

Olympiakos (Greece)


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  



Olympiakos (Greece)



Match Report : -  
In weather more suited to Greece than N17, Spurs took to the field against Olympiakos with three new faces playing their first games there for Tottenham and a fine second half performance of pacy passing and good finishing earned a 3-0 home win.

White Hart Lane was only about 2/3 full, but the attendees were treated to a good performance against a weak Olympiakos side, who had qualified for the Qualifying round of the Champions League by playing a preliminary round against Slovan Bratislava in midweek.  They are therefore no mugs and on occasion showed their contempt for the way Tottenham were playing with some full-bloodied tackles, but Steve Bennett failed to do much about it resulting in Modric having to leave the field just over half an hour after coming on, as he was caught by a late tackle that got his heel.

But then Spurs showed their willingness not to be walked over any more, with some crunching tackles form Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone and Naughton.  The way Spurs passed the ball around was well suited to the conditions and to the opposition, as it was almost like a European style, with long, diagonal passes to Crouch on the edge of the area to mix things up a bit.

There were two early balls to Crouch's head, one nodded into Robbie Keane's path and the second at goal, but too high, which was something that became a familiar pattern.  Maybe the idea of starting with Bentley in the side and Crouch as one of the strikers was to get the ball in and for him to challenge for it.  The tactic worked again, but Crouch headed wide, but some short passing produced a shooting opportunity for Jamie O'Hara, but his effort was well over the bar.  It might have been the old story of spurned chances leading to Tottenham being made to pay, as Dud was allowed to move forward from halfway with the ball and his shot bent inches past Gomes' left hand post from 30 yards out.

Danny Rose was staring on the left of midfield and he is showing that he is a bright young man with a willingness to take players on.  One early cross went over the penalty area, but his second in the 13th minute was pulled back low for Keane to shoot, but a defender got something on it to take it wide.  His next cross hit Crouch and his header was on target, but not good enough to get past the George Clooney look-a-like keeper Nikopolidis.  Just before that some neat play between Huddlestone and Crouch on the edge of the area lead to a shot from the new man that went wide of the mark.

With Sebastien Bassong only arriving a few days before the game and his two match suspension keeping him out of the opening fixtures, it was just as well this friendly came along to give him a chance to play in the team before the action starts for real.  He won a lot in the air, showed that he can time a tackle well and gave Ledley King a strong partner, who will not be shoved off the ball.  Like King, he also showed a liking to bring the ball out of defence and his 50 yard dribble in the 24th minute took him to the edge of the Olympiakos penalty area, where he set up Hud for a 20 yard shot that thumped into the advertising hoardings at the side of the goal.

The opposition had played their Champions League qualifier in mid-week, but looked as though they lack a cutting edge.  Whether this is the case when they play for real, I don't know, but there were only a few moments in the game when they threatened.  Five minutes before the break, a quick free-kick, given for Dudu hitting the deck after a slight challenge, freed Diogo to shoot from outside the box, but a deflection by Ledley King took the sting out of it, allowing Gomes to recover his position after the ball changed direction.  The same player had their best chance of the game to that point when he hit a ball pulled back from the dead ball line wide, after defender Domi had made good ground with a run that saw him easily get past Naughton.  It was a bit of a howler, as any shot on target with that power would have left Gomes standing.

A half-time parade by some surly Under-16s who won the Puma tournament in America was carried out in the sweltering sun and then the traditional friendly match changing of the guard took place, with Tottenham making seven changes.  By contrast, Olypmiakos' two changes seemed modest.

The Tottenham tactics seemed to have changed with the new personnel coming on.  There was now a short passing game that moved the bal quickly on the floor, with Modric dictating the pace of the game and Pavlyuchenko and Defoe holding the ball and taking defenders away to make space for other Spurs players to fill.  One early example saw Modric feed Defoe wide on the edge of the box and he turned his man well to play the ball across the six yard box, but, to Jermain's disgust, Pav hadn't read his intentions and was hanging back for the ball to be pulled back to him.

The Greek substitute keeper was kept busy and he looked a bit shaky, with a lot of pushing the ball out rather than trying to hold onto it.  His first save three minutes into the half saw him moving forward quickly as Defoe hit a shot from outside the box, but the keeper managed to stop his forward momentum and drop on the ball to smother the effort.  He had an easier task a couple of minutes later when he caught a tame volley from Lennon after Huddlestone's shot had been blocked up into the air.

The midfield and the forwards seemed to be linking better and this provided shooting chances for both units of the side.  This is something we need to improve on, as goals from midfield can make a real difference to results.  However, with 57 minutes gone, Olympiakos came the closest to scoring as a cross from Zairi was met well by Leonardo's head and Cudicini had to fly to his right to grab the ball that would have crept inside the post.  Shortly after, a low ball in from the right was skied over the top by the same player, when he should really have hit the target from about 15 yards out.

As Tottenham's play was earthbound, the speed of thought of Modric and the speed of foot by Lennon became more important.  The two linked on 65 minutes to send Lennon racing into the box, where he was bundled over, but the ref was not too quick to blow his whistle and with Aaron touching the ball sideways, Roman rifled the ball into the top of the goal with Pardo left helpless.  it was a goal that came against the run of play a little, but overall, Spurs were good value for their lead.

A minute after the goal, Bassong nearly marked his first game with a goal, as his header from Modric's corner was kicked out from in front of goal by one of the many Papadopolouses - this one was K.  The pressure was really on Olympiakos now and when substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng hit a low shot that Pardo pushed to his left and Chimbonda ran onto it with the goal yawning in front of him, but his shot did not reach the open goal, as Olof Mellberg came out of nowhere to slide in and block the ball out for a corner.

However, from the corner, the ball was headed onto the far post by Bassong and for once, we had someone there.  Pav got the ball and blasted a low ball into the six yard box, where Corluka knocked the bal into the net from close range to make it 2-0.

Spurs were now rampant and the movement of the players and the ball was excellent.  A neat passing move opened the Greek defence up again and Boateng slipped Pavlyuchenko through on the left to hit a shot that was too hot for Pardo to hold and it flew across the box to Defoe, who tricked Domi, who took his standing leg.  For all the world it looked like a penalty, but neither the nearby linesman nor the referee agreed, so Defoe was left to remonstrate with the lineman about his decision.

This clearly riled Jermain and he was desperate to get the ball at the very next opportunity.  He did and his pace took him ahead of Mellberg to smack an unstoppable shot past Pardo from the 18 yard line for 3-0. His first act after scoring was to go to the linesman and wag his finger at him for denying him the penalty before being swamped by team-mates.

Modric had taken a kick on his heel from the same player who went straight through the back of Assou-Ekotto, which prompted Bennett to have a word with him, but when Pascal Chimbonda showed dissent for a soft free-kick given to Olympiakos, Bennett threatened to get him substituted.  I know there is this Respect campaign to make things easier for referees, but they would earn more respect if they stopped injury causing tackles or at least dealt with them more harshly than dissent.

Into added time, Defoe cracked an effort wide of the goal and then set up Pavlyuchenko to hit a shot at goal that Pardo did well to get across to and palm away, when it looked like it might be 4-0.

These friendlies are not meaningless in the build-up to the new season, but the quality and effort put in by the opposition is always questionable, so nothing should be taken from the result.  However, the early signs are that the two partnerships tried out can work, while the passing game worked particularly effectively in the second half.  Some good performances and the fringe players all did well, but it might have left Harry with a few more selection problems ahead of next Sunday's game with Liverpool.

isaac gregory



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