OPPONENTS Internazionale at the San Siro
COMPETITION Champions  League 
DATE Tuesday 18th September 2018
PREVIEW Tottenham travel to Italy on the back of two 1-2 defeats and a couple of performances that have been less than convincing.  Added to that, injury has hit the side with five first teamers not making the flight to play Internazionale.

The home side is full of familiar names.  Handanovic is a good keeper, who we have come across before, but managed to score against, while the defence will be without Vrsaljko, who is out injured, but a former Spurs target Stefan de Vrij (formerly of Ajax and Lazio) will be in the line-up, Andrea Rannochia (who spent some time at Hull !) will join him, with Milan Skriniar, Miranda and they hope Danilo DíAmbrosio. Their defence used to be their strength, but the resting of players didnít help them at Parma at the weekend, when they lost 0-1 to make their record 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses.

Their midfield contains Italian midfielder Roberto Gagliardini, Uruguayan Matias Vecino (a player linked to Spurs), Belgian Radja Nainggolan, Portuguese international Joao Mario (a player who was linked to Spurs), former West Bromwich Albion midfielder Borja Valero, World Cup finalist with Croatia Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic (both linked to Spurs). It is quite a daunting roster of
players and there is a variety and skill among them. It will be a tough task to keep them at bay, especially with our midfield struggling to function at the moment. A veteran winger Antonio Candreva is another player formerly linked to Spurs and has spent most of his career out on loan at various Italian clubs. The selection will depend on how strong a side Spalletti thinks he has to put
out to beat the depleted Tottenham team.

Up front, there are again options, with Keita Balde on loan from Monaco; Mauro Icardi Ė a much sought after striker among Premier League clubs; Argentinian Lautaro Martinez (who is struggling to be fit) and Matteo Politano (on loan from Sassuolo). Icardi could be the main threat being club captain and an Argentine international. Strong and a fine goal-getter, he will test our defence.

Spurs are suffering a little at the moment, with finding a pattern of play to suit the new formation.  Movement is limited and space isnít being created leaving the player on the ball with few options to pass the ball off to. With no out ball against Liverpool, the pressure kept building on the back four.

Pochettino has to devise a way for the side to function at a higher level and regain some of the fluency of last season.  In a tough group, it is important o get something out of the first game, but with Hugo, Kieran, Toby, Dele and Moussa out, it might mean that our bench will look a little light.  Son and Lamela looked sharp on Saturday, so hopefully, they will add a bit of verve to the side's attacking forays, as this might be the way to keep Inter back.

I would like to think we could get something at the San Siro, but, with all things considered, it might be unlikely.

PREDICTION Internazionale    2        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Champions League Kick off 17:55 (UK time)
Internazionale  2 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)

Icardi  85m 00s
Vecino  90+1m 45s

Eriksen  52m 28s
Crowd :   , Weather :  Warm
Referee : Clement Turpin  (FRA) Assistant Referees :  Nicolas Danos (FRA); Cyril Gringore (FRA)
Fourth Official :  Guillame Debart  (FRA) Additional Assistant Referees :  Ruddy Buquet (FRA); Nicolas Rainville (FRA)
UEFA Delegate : - UEFA Referee Observer : -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Curva Nord end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 6 minutes.
Skriniar (foul on Son)  21
Perisic (foul on Eriksen)  43


Sanchez  (foul on Nainggolan)  38
Vertonghen  (foul on Nainggolan)  51
Vorm  (timewasting)  82 


Internazionale : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

37  Milan SKRINIAR     
  6  Stefan de VRIJ
18  KwadwoASAMOAH

16   Matteo POLITANO  (11  Keita BALDE  72)
77   Marcelo BROZOVIC
  Matias VECINO 
14  Radja NAINOGGOLAN  (20  Borja VALERO  89)

44  Ivan PERISIC        (87  Antonio CANDREVA  64)

  9  Mauro ICARDI 

Unused subs: 
27  Daniele PADELLI
13  Andrea RANOCCHIA

  13  Michel VORM      

24  Serge AURIER
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN      
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ      
33  Ben DAVIES

19  Mousa DEMBELE
15  Eric DIER

11  Erik LAMELA  (  8  Harry WINKS  72)
23  Christian ERIKSEN 
  7  Heung-Min SON  (27  Lucas MOURA  64)

10  Harry KANE  (c)  (  3  Danny ROSE  90)

Unused subs: 

12  Victor WANYAMA
18  Fernando LLORENTE

Manager :  Luciano Spalletti Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Pirelli Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

With six minutes to go, everything looked good for Tottenham, but that six minutes turned the game on its head, with Internazionale grabbing two late goals to take the win and leaving Spurs suffering their third 1-2 reverse on the trot. Having said that Spurs did not play badly. Not great in the first half, but the second was the best they had functioned this season until that home surge at the end.

Without Trippier and Alderweireld making the trip, Aurier and Sanchez filled their places in the team, with Son, Lamela and Eriksen playing behind Kane. The rest of the side was as played against Liverpool.

Spurs looked reasonably sharp at the start, even though some of their passing was a little loose, but much of that was due to the high press Inter played. Davies and Son were getting caught on the ball as they were closed down, with fee possibilities to lay the ball off. It was either that or having to play long balls up to Kane, who was muscled off it. Inter won a series of corners around the ten-minute mark, with nothing coming from them, but Sanchez had to make an acrobatic clearance as a long throw was headed on and it was about to drop in front of goal for Perisic.

The first sight of goal Tottenham had was after 12 minutes, when Lamelaís run was halted and a free-kick was hit on target and Handanovic dodgily punched the ball away, when it looked safe enough to catch. Another free-kick when Son got away and was stopped when Skriniar turned his shoulder into the Koreanís face gave Eriksen the opportunity to put a good ball in, but although Davies flicked it on the keeper came and grabbed the ball in the air.  In the 25th minute, Sanchesz got his head to a left wing Inter cross and Vorm was required to palm the ball out at full stretch as it was on the way to Icardi. From it, Spurs played the ball out and Miranda went through the back of Kane in midfield with no punishment. Free-kicks looked Tottenhamís best way of getting on the score-sheet and on the half hour, Eriksen played a long one in from out on the right just inside the Inter half and Sanchez won it, but headed it too far downwards, with the ball bouncing up easily for Handanovic to claim. A ball into the left side of the
Spurs box saw Vertonghen go for the ball and miss his kick as Nainggolan challenged, but no foul was given and luckily the Belgian midfielderís cross was low into the six yard box, where Sanchez cleared it upfield. It came back when Brozovic won it, but he hit a shot well wide across Vormís goal.

Son got away on the left wing and his pacy, low cross saw de Vrij slice it, but it went across goal behind him, when it could have gone anywhere. Aurier got a shot at the far post when the ball ran loose, but he hit it into the ground and it lost all its power as it flew into the middle of the penalty area. When Spurs regained possession, Eriksen threaded a pass beyond de Vrij for Kane to be in on Handanovic, to the left of centre. He took the ball easily around the keeper but ran it a little too far and in trying to keep the ball in, knocked it out for a goal kick. It was a gilt-edged chance and one that would have been against the run of play, but would have opened the game up, as it had been quite cagey until then.

Sanchezís foul on Nainggolan not only got him a booking but conceded a central free-kick 25 yards out. Politano could only hit the wall though, with Kane heading it out for a corner. Vorm took the  ball well, catching it from the corner kick. Eriksen, Lamela and Aurier worked a good move on the right for the Ivory Coast international to put a low cross into the near post that the keeper could only parry, being helped out by his defenders, who go it clear. Then Perisic went into the book for a crude foul on Eriksen.

Half time came and went. With Spurs enjoying their best spell just before the whistle and after the restart, Eriksen chipped a ball towards Kane, but it drifted away from the striker when maybe the Dane could have shot. Just before that Politano did shoot, but way wide. Tottenham had made the ball work quicker and were forcing Inter back.
Mousa Dembele started a forward move with the ball on halfway, Son moved the ball infield from the left, Eriksen took it on, won it against two blue and black shirts after a block had taken it into the air and then he let go a shot from 20 yards. Handonovic only got a hand to it and pushed it out in front of goal again, with Lamela getting a touch that inadvertently sent it in Christianís direction and he hit the net, with the ball flicking off Miranda to beat the keeper. There was a slice of luck, but it was a good goal from the moving and passing that has been missing.  The Spurs contingent under the roof went barmy !!
Soon after Erik could have doubled the lead, when he ran across from right to left and hit a curling shot that deflected off a defender and went just wide. Inter tried to hit back and although a lot of their crosses were over-hit, Politano did land one on Perisicís head and Vorm had to dive left to get his hands behind it, even though it wasnít too powerful.

Davies was played in on our left wing inside the Inter box, but his low pull-back was blocked and Son hit a hopeful shot from outside the box, but straight at the keeper. Inter were getting desperate with claims for a booking with every tackle that Spurs made. But their keeper kept them in it. Just after the hour, Aurier made a storming run from the halfway line, playing in Lamela to his left and the Argentineís shot was only kept out by Handanovicís leg. It rebounded to Kane in front of goal, who could only get a touch to it as it went behind him, although an offside Son tucked it away.

It was Sonís last action, as Lucas replaced him and Perisic left the pitch with Candreva coming on for him. Vorm was almost caught playing out of his box, but Icardi took him out after he released the pass, but it was a little risky although Spurs were still looking to go forward. Lucas won a ball in the air, when Skriniar went over the top of him, and his run into the box caused enough panic for the ball to rebound to Lamela, whose shot was blocked by Handanovic at close range, coming out to him quickly.

Inter continued to cross too long or to try some skilful trick that only ended up with the ball going off the pitch. With Spurs having more time on the ball as Inter tired, they looked comfortable in possession. At times, there were Inter subs warming up by running on the pitch inside the side-line and the fourth official and one of the assistants behind the goal were all on the pitch. I was surprised there was so much space opening up !

Candreva threatened the Spurs goal when he tricked a yard out of Davies in the box and hit a shot that was always rising over the bar. When Spurs got the ball to Lucas on the left, he ghosted past a couple of Inter players and pulled the ball across, but not to a white shirt, although the clearance fell to Dier to shoot. It flew wide, but Winks was in his way as he ran onto it. It proved to be a turning point, as in Interís next attack, Asamoah crossed from the left, with the ball swinging away from the edge of the box, but Icardi was there to hit a 25 yard volley that curled away from Vormís full stretch dive to equalise. The noise inside the stadium was a massive crescendo and it seemed to knock
some of the stuffing out of Spurs, such is the fragility of their confidence.

Maybe Pochettino was also affected, as he took off Kane, who had run tirelessly all night, replacing him with Danny Rose. It was he who cleared the ball upfield as Icardi failed to control in the box, as four mkinutes added time was shown on the fourth officialís board. Sanchez headed narrowly over his own goal as a dangerous cross came in and from the corner, there was a game of pinball as the ball bounced around in front of the Tottenham goal. It went out for another corner and when it was played in, de Vrij headed it back across goal from a deep position and Vecino rose above Harry Winks to head it across Vorm and in for a 2-1 lead to Inter in added time. It was s shattering blow after what had been a good second half performance by Spurs, but they were undone again by a set-piece. Would Kaneís height have helped out in that situation ? Maybe, but that is academic, the fact  that we threw away a win in the final few minutes of the match hints that the side do not currently have that mental strength that they have shown for the last few seasons.

It was gutting and the Inter fans in front of us were giving it large, but they were the beneficiaries of a cracking goal out of the blue that was out of keeping with their whole performance. Tottenham looked better than they have recently, but are still suffering with an inability to put games to bed when they are ahead. Last seasonís defeat by  Juventus at Wembley was against a street-wise team and we need to learn from that. It is not just killing the game by scoring more goals, but, if need be, by drawing cheap fouls to disrupt the game and kill time. We need to ensure that the ball is kept away form our goal. We need to keep the ball and keep the ball moving to tire out the opposition.

At the moment, there is difficulty holding onto possession, but the second half showed that we can do it, but it needs accurate passing and movement to receive the ball.
In the end, we came away with nothing and that is very disappointing, but we did play better and there were signs of the Spurs of the last two seasons coming back. The next few games will need to see the team be sharper and on it, because the opposition will not be there to roll over. Brighton will be fresher and Watford will want to make a point after being forced to travel to Milton Keynes.  The team might be bolstered by the return of Trippier and Toby and maybe Dele too.

Whoever takes to the pitch will need to make sure we can maintain a good tempo to take the game to Brighton and also to ensure that we sort out the defence for set-pieces as the Gulls will look to make the most of corners and free-kicks.

Marco van Hip

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What you thought
Ed Dennis There were some good performances tonight fro Spurs despite the result.  Dembele was strong in midfield, Lucas looked up for it when he came on and Aurier and Sanchez did well.  Even Vorm had a reasonable game, with no chance with the two goals.

Spurs just need to all be switched on at Brighton on Saturday, so we don't let anything else slip away from us.

Benny The Ball I am not sure if showing your genitalia to another man is some weird sort of Italian insult, but the Inter fan in front of us didn't have the last laugh, being a little less than well endowed.



Other Champions League group scores this round of games :
Group A
Monaco (FRA) 1 Atletico Madrid (SPA) 2 Tuesday
Club Brugge (BEL) 0 Borussia Dortmund (GER) 1 Tuesday
Group B
Barcelona (SPA) 4 PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 0 Tuesday
Group C
Red Star Belgrade (SER) 0 Napoli (ITA) 0 Tuesday
Liverpool 3 Paris Saint Germain (FRA) 2 Tuesday
Group D
Schalke 04 (GER) 1 FC Porto (POR) 1 Tuesday
Galatasary (TUR) 3 Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 0 Tuesday
Group E
Ajax (HOL) 3 AEK Athens (GRE) 0 Wednesday
Benfica (POR) 0 Bayern Munich (GER) 2 Wednesday
Group F
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 2 1899 Hoffenheim (GER) 2 Wednesday
Manchester City 1 Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) 2 Wednesday
Group G
Real Madrid (SPA) 3 AS Roma (ITA) 0 Wednesday
Viktoria Plzen (CZE) 2 CSKA Moscow (RUS) 2 Wednesday
Group H
Valencia (SPA) 0 Juventus (ITA) 2 Wednesday
Young Boys Bern (SWI) 1 Manchester United 3 Wednesday



Champions League Group B Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Barcelona 1 1 0 0 4 0 0 +4
2 Internazionale 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 +1
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 -1
4 PSV Eindhoven 1 0 0 1 0 4 0 -4


Position before match :  N/A
Position after this round :  3rd


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