OPPONENTS Barcelona at Nou Camp
COMPETITION Champions League   Group B
DATE Tuesday 11th December 2018
PREVIEW At the end of the group stage of the Champions League, it comes down to this.  Win at the Nou Camp and we are through, otherwise we have to get the same result as Inter at PSV.  No pressure then !

A visit to the Nou Camp would be daunting enough and having lost 2-4 at Wembley, it could have a negative mental effect on Spurs, but the way they have been getting results and the way they played against Chelsea, they will believe that they have a chance of recording a memorable victory.  A lot will depend on Barca and who they put out to face Tottenham, having already qualified.  However, they will be keen to preserve their five year unbeaten home record in this competition.  They are a formidable sight in full flight, as we saw in glimpses at Wembley. I don't think they played that well on that night, but it was enough to see us off, bearing in mind we didn't have a full strength side available.  We might have this time and it will be another test of where we are in the company in the top European competition. 

Europa League football is guaranteed, whether that is a good or bad thing, but the prospect of progressing is one that the coach and players desire.  They have made it difficult for themselves in the first couple of group matches, when they should have seen games out, thus leaving them in the current predicament.  

Most of the names of the Barcelona squad are well known to fans in England and with injuries to Malcom, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto, Arthur and Samuel Umtiti, they could field a side with some of their fringe players.  Not to say that this makes the task any easier, especially as they trounced local rivals Espanyol 4-0 at the weekend.  The system is the thing at Barcelona and players from the squad are drilled to be able to drop into it, whoever they are.  And we are still without Sanchez, Lamela, Wanyama and probably Trippier.  The coach has said to Inter that they will aim to win against Spurs, so we will have to do it the hard way if we want to get out of the group.

It would be fantastic to come home with a win and three points to see us through to the Round of 16, but I think pride will kick on for the Catalan side and prevent them from rolling over for us.  On our game I think we could earn a point there.

PREDICTION Barcelona    1        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Champions League  Group B Kick off 20:00 (UK time)
Barcelona  1 (1)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)

Dembele  6m 43s


Moura  84m 20s

Crowd :   69,961 Weather :  Chilly, dry
Referee : Milorad Mažić (SER) Assistant Referees :  Milovan Ristić (SER); Dalibor Djurdjević (SER)
Fourth Official :  Nemanja Petrović (SER) Additional Assistant Referees :  Nenad Djokić (SER); Danilo Grujić (SER)
UEFA Match Delegate :  Pavel Kolev (BUL) UEFA Referee Observer : Nikolay Levnikov (RUS)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Semedo (foul on Rose)  68


Walker-Peters  (foul on MIranda)  15 


Barcelona : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
13  Jasper CILLESSEN

  2  Nelson SEMEDO     
15  Clement LENGLET
24  Thomas VERMAELEN

26  Carles ALENA
  4  Ivan RAKATIC  (c)  (Sergio BUSQUETS 46)

11  Ousmane DEMBELE    (  6  Denis SUAREZ  76) 
19  MUNIR El Haddadi  (10  Lionel MESSI  63) 
  7  Philippe COUTINHO

Unused subs: 
1  Marc-Andre ter STEGEN
18  Jordi ALBA
  Gerard PIQUE
  Arturo VIDAL

   1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

16  Kyle WALKER-PETERS       (11  Erik LAMELA  61)
  3  Danny ROSE

  8  Harry WINKS  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  83) 
7  Moussa SISSOKO

  7  Heung-Min SON  (27  Lucas MOURA  71  )
20  DELE Alli
Christian ERIKSEN

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
33  Ben DAVIES
15  Eric DIER
  Oliver SKIPP

Manager :  Ernesto Valverde Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Rakuten Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Spurs set out on mission impossible against a less than full strength Barcelona starting XI and had to wait until after the game to find out if their 1-1 draw was good enough for them to progress.

Lining up with a strong side and a strong bench, Spurs looked positive from the kick off and within a couple of minutes, Dele and Christian Eriksen played a neat one-two with a cheeky back heel putting the game in a good shooting position in the area, but Miranda got back to nick the ball away from him just before he could pull the trigger. Kyle Walker-Peters’ attacking intent won a free-kick up our right wing and with Danny Rose running over it, Eriksen swung it into the area, but it was headed out. Moussa Sissoko, facing his own goal ten yards outside the Barca box headed it back to Walker-Peters 10 yards inside the Barcelona half, but his touch took the ball away from him as he moved towards halfway and Dembele was rapid in reaching him and taking the ball away from him. He tracked back, Winks slid across Dembele, but he showed composure to come inside and slide a left foot shot under Lloris to give the home team a seventh minute lead.

It wasn’t what Tottenham needed, but with our free-kick committing men forward, a more circumspect approach might have been a better tactic, with a result needed from the game. Spurs now had to dig deep to come from behind, much the way they did in the first meeting in the group.

The game settled into a passing phase, with both sides probing, but not creating clear chances. Son got into the box, but went wide and couldn’t make anything of it, while Dele cleared at the far post when a free kick on their left almost reached Vermaelen. There was almost as big a noise as the goal when the 17th minute arrived and there was an in stadium protest about the Catalunyan independence campaigners.

Tight passing was difficult, with both sides closing down, although Spurs seemed to be conserving some energy during a quarter hour spell after the goal. Aside from a slip by Lloris as he went to clear a back pass, there were few more worrying moments and the home team had an escape when Eriksen slid the ball outside him on the left and his cross ball went through the six yard box, just ahead of Son. When Vermaelen dived in, studs up on Eriksen’s shin, Spurs had a free-kick on the left hand corner of the box, but Kane hit the wall. Then, a through ball by Eriksen set Sonny in on goal, after his touch took the ball past Vermaelen, With the ball inside the box on the left side and Cillessen coming out, Son tried to slide it past him to the keeper’s left, but he stuck a foot out to deflect the ball away. It was a great chance in the 32nd minute and I wondered how many more we would get.

Son had a low shot easily saved by Cillessen and a minute before half-time, Barcelona came with a few inches of making it 2-0 as Coutinho turned Winks and ran at goal in the box, with Alderweireld doing just enough to restrict the room the midfielder had to shoot and the ball cannoned off the foot of the post and away.

Half-time was spent discussing the options of the outcomes of the game. PSV were beating Inter at the San Siro and we needed a goal, because, surely, that game would not stay that way until the end. Early on in the second half, it looked as though Spurs knew what they had to do, as Eriksen released Sissoko down the right and he chose to try and early ball across to Kane, but it was cut out, when perhaps he had a little more time to wait to put the ball in. Then Toby played a ball up to Kane, who shielded it and laid in for Eriksen to take a touch and try to curl one in to the keeper’s right, but Cillessen again made the save to touch it away for a corner.

Hugo had to be alert when Coutinho scooped the ball over the top for Alena, but the Spurs captain raced out to head clear. The game was a bit end to end and Keane raced away on the left wing, putting the ball across for Eriksen and then Dele to have shots blocked. Kane then had a chance when put through on goal and Longlet laid hands on Kane’s back as he reached the box, forcing him to shoot over the bar wildly. At the Spurs end, Walker-Peters made a brilliant block when the ball had been pulled back to Coutinho just inside the box and in the middle of the goal.

It looked like being one of those nights, as Rose pulled a low cross behind every white shirt in the box and then Eriksen worked the ball to Son in the box, but his left footed shot was weak and the keeper made a simple stop. Barcelona had a goal ruled out, but Munir was well offside when Coutinho played a smart ball into the box, but the flag was up a long time before he screwed the ball past Lloris. Pochettino replaced Walker-Peters with Lamela and this moved Sissoko to right back, with Lamela slotting into midfield. The Barca players were hitting the deck with screams to win free-kicks and one was played across to the right, where Dembele tried to find the top corner with a curling effort, but put it too far wide. Then the home crowd got excited as Lionel Messi came on in the 63rd minute, which didn’t fill the Spurs fans with joy.

From one of the strong challenges, Rose won the ball from Semedo, then Lamela chased a long pass down and won a corner off Vermaelen. From it, Christian beat the first man and picked out Harry Kane’s head. He nodded the ball downwards at goal, but Miranda kicked it away just inside the six yard box. It was a good chance and again, it looked as if fate was against us. Even more so, when Rose lifted a ball to the far post and Eriksen met it on the volley, only for Cillessen to block the ball on the line. The ref gave a free-kick anyway for a foul by Kane on Vermaelen, but it was soft.

The game was wearing on and the news that Inter had equalised through Icardi made things look a little bleak. As Tottenham looked for the goal that would make a big difference, Messi went on a little run towards the box, but he couldn’t beat Moussa Sissoko. In the 75th minute, Spurs looked as if they were not going to make it, when Sissoko’s cross was headed by substitute Lucas Moura, who saw it saved by the keeper inches in front of the line and then he picked up the loose ball, spun back towards goal and fired a shot in that went narrowly wide. His header appeared to hit his thigh on the way down, perhaps making it easier for the goalie to get hands to it. Lucas also went down in the box, as Semedo challenged him, later seen to be grabbing his shorts as he did so. Rose made a finely timed tackle on Arthur in the box to stop him gaining possession from a Messi pass.

When Sissoko’s low cross deflected off two defenders and fell to the keeper, it looked as though our luck was out. Poch threw on Llorente for WInks as a Plan B, with Messi putting in Coutinho again and he jinked into the box, finding space to bend the ball around Alderweireld, but once more seeing the ball bounce away off the post, with Lloris beaten. Perhaps the gods were looking down on us.

Rose won the ball at left back and playing it out through Jan and Toby, it ended up with Eriksen switching it left to Lamela. He played it down the line, for Kane, being played on by Vermaelen and he played a cross between two players sliding in and Moura was on the six yard line, from where he volleyed the ball past Cillessen, who had no chance of stopping this one. The Spurs fans went delirious and with Harry Kane urging the team to get the ball and get back for the kick off, they obviously felt they could go for the win.

The referee was doing his best to help Barcelona get back in front, with a weak free-kick for a foul on Arthur, which allowed Messi to try and effort from 25 yards out, but it didn’t dip and was over the bar. Two minutes from time, a superb reverse ball from Eriksen gave Lamela space to pass it on to Kane and his blind ball found Danny Rose steaming in on his left, but with space, he fired the ball well over, when a goal there would have made things more comfortable.

Now, all you could hear was the Spurs fans, apart from a few whistles from home supporters, but there was still danger while Messi was on the pitch. Four minutes of added time was shown and when Messi played a through ball looking for Denis Suarez, Toby’s mis-kick took the ball through to Lloris, luckily enough. When the Argentine captain was presented with a shooting chance, from just outside the box, his effort flew over the bar as his foot went from under him. When the final whistle went, the Spurs fans celebrated, but nothing like when the result came through that PSV had got a point with nothing to play for and knocked Inter into the Europa League.

It was a memorable performance that was worthy of the point and perhaps more.  Barcelona played to win and hit the post twice, but Spurs had numerous opportunities to score and Cillessen was the man of the match with his outstanding performance. 

Despite all the nonsense of poor fan management getting into the ground (having to walk al the way around it, then made to wait as the police regulated the access to the ticket checks and gates, hitting fans with batons as they went before walking over a rickety scaffold bridge into the ramshackle stadium and being directed to our seat in the back row but one of the highest part of the ground), it was a memorable night that shows Spurs can challenge in this calibre of opponent's home ground.

So, it was a fantastic result, a fantastic city, but a bit of a toilet of a ground.  They are due to rebuild it, taking four years and still playing there, as they redevelop it moving fans around as they go.  It needs it.  It was shabby and very basic, which was a shock when it is supposed to be one of the biggest clubs in the world.

But it was the result that mattered and Spurs did what they needed to do to get through (with PSV helping out).  Every one of the players did their bit, with Kyle Walker-Peters standing up well after his mistake, but it will be something to learn from.

Onto next Monday for the draw to find out our next opponents.

Marco van Hip

Match records

Harry Kane made his 300th career club appearance.

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What you thought
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Other Champions League group scores this round of games :
Group A
Borussia Dortmund (GER) 0 Club Brugge (BEL) 0 Wednesday
Atletico Madrid (SPA) 2 Monaco (FRA) 0 Wednesday
Group B
Internazionale (ITA) 1 PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 1 Wednesday
Group C
Red Star Belgrade (SER) 3 Paris Saint Germain (FRA) 1 Wednesday
Liverpool 1 Napoli (ITA) 0 Wednesday
Group D
FC Porto (POR) 3 Schalke 04 (GER) 1 Wednesday
Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 2 Galatasary (TUR) 0 Wednesday
Group E
Bayern Munich (GER) 5 Benfica (POR) 1 Tuesday
AEK Athens (GRE) 0 Ajax (HOL) 2 Tuesday
Group F
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) 2 Manchester City 2 Tuesday
1899 Hoffenheim (GER) 2 Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 3 Tuesday
Group G
CSKA Moscow (RUS) 1 Viktoria Plzen (CZE) 2 Tuesday
AS Roma (ITA) 0 Real Madrid (SPA) 2 Tuesday
Group H
Juventus (ITA) 1 Valencia (SPA) 0 Tuesday
Manchester United 1 Young Boys Bern (SWI) 0 Tuesday


Champions League Group B Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Barcelona 6 4 2 0 14 5 14 +9
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 6 2 2 2 9 10 8 -1
3 Internazionale 6 2 2 2 6 7 8 -1
4 PSV Eindhoven 6 0 3 3 6 13 2 -7

Position before match :  2nd
Position after match :  2nd


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