Villarreal (Spain) (Home)

          Thursday 29th July 2010


Tottenham Hotspur    1      Villarreal   4   (Half-time score : 0-2)

Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Thursday 29th July 2010
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   16,000 (approx)
Referee :  Kevin Friend
Weather :  -   Warm
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes  (35  Button  46)

  2  Hutton  (28  Walker  46)
22  Corluka
20  Dawson  (19  Bassong  46)
16  Naughton  (32  Assou-Ekotto  46)

  7  Lennon  (  3  Bale  46)
  8  Jenas  (25  Rose  19)
  6  Huddlestone  (36  Parrett  78)
21  Kranjcar  (11  Taarabt  80)

18  Defoe  (17  Giovani  46  )
10  Keane  (c)  (15  Crouch  46)

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
31  Townsend
43  Fredericks
38  Mpoku

Villarreal :

13  Diego Lopez  (  1  Oliva  46)

18  Angel Lopez  (17  Gaspar  61)
15  Jose Catala  (29  Castellani  88)
16  Mussachio  (24  Kiko  46)
  3  Oriol  (11  Gullon  84)

19  Senna (c)  (  9  Ruben  61  )

14  Fuster  (20  Valero  46)
  8  Cazorla  (  7  Cristobal  46)
21  Soriano  (26  Insa  78)
10  Cani  (11  Montero  61)

22  Rossi      (23  Perez  79)

Unused subs: 
25  Carlos
  6  Matilla

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Giovani 56


Rossi  22
Rossi  32
Corluka (o.g.)  70
Ruben  86
Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Assou-Ekotto (elbow) 56



Cani (kicking ball away) 78


Match Report : -  
White Hart Lane became the home for the bewildered for the night ... mainly off the pitch, but the way that Villarreal played to defeat Spurs 4-1, many people in the crowd would have wagered that it was on the pitch too.

I have no issues with people getting a glimpse of Spurs when they can, but the attendances at pre-season friendlies tend to consist of people who have very strong opinions, based on very little and want to share them with everyone who goes to the games.  Either that or they have what would fall short of a working knowledge of the team and the way they play, if not football as a sport.

The reason this irks me is that they always end up sitting behind (or very near) me.  The 30-stone bloke and his six year old daughter who was attending her first game were just the tip of the iceberg (although by no means the 10% visible).  Starting by reassuring his young girl that Spurs were playing in yellow and "look, there's Gudjohnsen", such pearls of wisdom continued throughout the game.  David Bale was on the pitch and Bentley was on the bench, while Danny Rose was urged to "Go on Jermain."    I am pleased to report that the Tickets for Troops that had been donated by the club for this match had seen the servicemen sit away from such paying customers (although I later found out that many had been given tickets when their children attended the Spurs Soccer School recently ... I wondered how they all knew each other).

I long for the start of the season proper, when I will be surrounded by the regular nutters I am accustomed to who are entry card holding attendees.

The action began with Villarreal attacking the Paxton end and Spurs fielding a side featuring some of the returning World Cup players, more of whom were to enter the play later in the match.  The ground was far from full and it was hard to estimate the crowd as people were still coming in at half-time.  The away end contained about 45 fans of the Spanish club and there were huge expanses of blue seats visible and I fully expect it to be the same for the Fiorentina friendly in nine days time.

Tottenham started pretty well.  Passing sharply, they opened up the Villarreal defence, with Corluka slipping Keane in to try a chip over the keeper, albeit as a cross that dropped too close to the goal, forcing Diego Lopez to tip the ball over the bar with only two minutes gone.  From the corner, the ball was played back in and Lennon's shot was blocked and a minute later, Dawson suffered the same fate as he got on the end of Kranjcar's cross at the near post.  Michael was soon in more familiar territory when he timed a perfect sliding tackle at the other end to prevent Giuseppe Rossi, the former Manchester United striker, going through.

The La Liga team showed the style that Spanish national teams had displayed at senior and Under-19 level this summer, being able to comfortably hold onto possession, while moving the Spurs defence around to wait for a decent opening, rather than just hitting a percentage ball into the box and hoping for the best.  Two such passages of play lead to shots from Fuster and Cazorla both striking shots that narrowly missed Gomes' goal by the time a quarter of an hour had passed.  After Jermaine Jenas had limped off, with Danny Rose replacing him in a central midfield role, Villarreal scored the first goal of the night.  22 minutes into the match and the ball was manoeuvred around until Cazorla put the ball into Rossi's path and he struck the ball low past Gomes from the left into the bottom right corner from about 10 yards out.  It was well deserved and a fine finish from a player that Spurs have been linked with and you could see why.

In stark comparison to the Villarreal play, Spurs were not playing at a tempo they would in the Premier League (unsurprising for a friendly before the season starts) and their passing was not true or inventive enough.  They were restricted to long shots, one by Rose ending well wide and another from Defoe not being placed away from Lopez.  Gomes was called upon to keep Los Submarinos out at the other end as Cani made a yard of space by turning away form his man to shoot from 20 yards out and make Heurelho dive to his left to save.  It only kept Villarreal out for a few more minutes, as another good spell of possession, moving the ball across the pitch until the opening arose to allow Senna to put Rossi through in the left side of the penalty area again and finish in the same manner to beat Gomes and make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.

The irregular "fans" were not happy.  Comments about how the Spurs team will be thrashed in the Champions League, how the players didn't look interested and were looking forward to getting out on the beach (?) and how we always win home friendlies, as they turn it on for their own fans began to seep out of their mouths.  It made me long for those who had attended the match the night before at Orient !!

Spurs did manage a spell of passing of their own five minutes before the break to allow Rose some space to cross in to Defoe, who looked to turn, but he was blocked as he was about to shoot by Catala.  The half time whistle came as a relief, both in terms of the action going against Tottenham and as a break from those around me, even though it was replaced with the incessant advertising on the big screen, that was preferable to what had been suffered during the first half.

As expected a large number of substitutions took place at the break and Spurs came out with Crouch and Giovani up front, replacing Defoe and Keane, while Walker, Bale, Assou-Ekotto, Bassong and Button also took to the pitch.  The experience given to players against European opposition is probably just as useful as the actual result, but some fans had come to the Lane to see Spurs win and that was all that was important. 

Spurs pepped up a bit at the start of the second half.  Gareth Bale ("He's the only one who looks fit") ran up the left side and his first cross on 50 minutes, was low and beat the keeper, ending up at Kyle Walker's feet on the far post and he attempted to put the ball back where the keeper had come from, but only managed to put it wide of the side of the goal where Bale had crossed from.  It was a good opportunity, but perhaps unfortunate that it dropped to a defender.  That opportunity was followed a couple of minutes later, when Giovani showed some of the ability he displayed in the World Cup finals by manufacturing a low cross that Crouch was a bit too far away from as he slid in.

When Tottenham did finally get the ball in the net, the excited fans who were jumping up and down celebrating had missed the fact that when Bale had passed through to Kranjcar to "score", the referee had blown for offside some considerable time before the ball left his foot.  it was only a minute later that Spurs had a goal which the assembled crowd could celebrate.  Peter Crouch intercepted a pass, then moved towards the edge of the box and fed the ball onto Giovani on the right.  Taking not time to fire in a low shot, the ball flew past Oliva and into the opposite bottom corner to make it 1-2.

The goal inspired Spurs and when the keeper dropped a corner from Kranjcar, the ball was headed out and then headed back towards goal by Tom Huddlestone and Crouch met it with his head, but Oliva had recovered to grab the ball as it was going towards the net.  With just about 20 minutes to go, Villarreal made some more substitutions and it produced another goal, which had a fair bit of fortune about it.  The ball was played through to Rossi and like all good goal-scorers, he wasted not time in getting his shot off - even though he was 25 yards out.  Button looked to have it covered, but Corluka stuck out a leg to try and block, but only succeeded in deflecting it into the other side of the goal, where Button wasn't.  At 1-3 there looked little way back (I know because I was informed from the bloke behind me) and it would be a case of seeing out the last 18 minutes by the visitors.

Giovani put Kranjcar in with a shooting chance on the left of the box and he hit a shot that Oliva did well to tip around the post, although the Croatian should have scored (I know because I was informed from the bloke behind me).  Corluka has looked a bit of a liability in pre-season and he managed to almost gift Villarreal another goal, when he went to take a throw-in to Button and the ball slipped, going straight up in the air where it was picked up by Ruben, who played the ball across goal past the out of position Button and the fourth goal was on the cards, as Montero ran in with the goal gaping in front of him.  However, the presence of Giovani, who had run back with the Villarreal man was enough to put him off and he incredibly put the ball wide from about a yard out with nobody in front of him.

It was the Spanish who were looking most likely to score again and Button did well to spread himself as Montero went through on the left, blocking his shot and the Spurs keeper would have been helpless in the 78th minute, when Montero got past Assou-Ekotto too easily tight to the line and pulled a low pass back to Ruben, who hit his shot way over the top from about six yards out.  The fourth Villarreal goal did eventually come five minutes from the end, when Valero (who was playing for West Bromwich Albion last season) put in a low cross from the right wing and Ruben slid in to get it right this time and put the ball in the net.

To be honest, it was little more than Villarreal deserved and their passing and movement alone was well worthy of the win.  The other pleasing aspect of the goal was that a vast majority of the "fans" who attended (most probably expecting an easy win over "these") had enough and headed for the exits.

While very little happened in the final four minutes (two were added to cover the injuries - mainly one where Benoit Assou-Ekotto elbowed someone in the head and got a yellow card for it), at least we could watch in relative silence.

The relevance of this game to Tottenham's Champions League campaign is about comparable to the degree of knowledge that the bloke behind me possessed compared to the average Spurs fan.  Players only just back in training, the proper first eleven not taking the field, players injured and the fact that it was not a competitive game all add to the performance and the result.

What is important is that those who took part must learn that the style of play they will face in the Champions League is totally different to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.  The Benfica and Fiorentina matches have been lined up to give exposure to different European styles and that is the benefit of these games ... not winning them all.  I would be happy if we win the games that count and not the ones that some of the fans think themselves entitled to see won.

marco van hip



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