Champions League Group Stage Match 1

A first Champions League match to forget…

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So Fox Sports West fucked me. I’m pretty sure they singled me out and fucked me. Tuesday’s CL match between Man City and Borussia Mongeloidbach (sp?) was canceled because of rain and lightning. The game was rescheduled for Wednesday and they–the evil masterminds Fox Sports West – pulled a switcheroo and showed the City-‘Bach game instead of Spurs v not-Spurs. I found a later showing but it was already in the 22nd minute. And the Spurs were down 0-1 and Monaco was holding the ball and dancing around it like a conga line. I was….not calm.

We started the game in a 4-2-3-1 with Alli and Dier at CM, and Son, Lamela and Erikson at AM. This was the “here’s our dick, bet you can’t suck the whole thing” lineup. That’s not exactly how it worked out.
Monaco on the ball was very composed and played tight 1-2s and outside-in overlaps. They gobbled up the space outside of the CMs and then worked back toward the middle to find shooting angles. Their chances weren’t amazing but they were slippery despite being predictable. It was frustrating to watch. When we would get the ball in possession, we would string together 4 or 5 sideways passes between the defenders and then play long passes to the wingers. The wingers would push up the field in the face of 9 defenders. Monaco packed in their D tight and organized. Kane and whoever had the ball were always surrounded by 3 Yachties. I don’t know what Monaco’s mascot is but Yachties sounds better than Genetic Recessive Blood Disorders, and clearly they’re one of the two.
A replay revealed that the first goal was scored when Lamela gave up possession, the ball moved to a striker out wide who turned inside between Davies and Vertonghen and fired low and inside the far post. Opportunistic but worthy goal. Fuckers. Around the 30th minute, we were back defending and Erikson and Walker had their men pushed into the corner. The Yachtiest played around with it, pulled it back and whipped in a cross into a mass of 3 Spurs defenders and 2 Yachtie attackers. The ball ping ponged around touching all 5 guys before popping out at the foot of a surprised attacker who smashed the ball into the roof of the net. 0-2 Yachties and it wasn’t looking good.
Somehow the Spurs started to turn it around. Some over the top passes to Walker on the sideline created some openings in the Yachties’ defense. We were controlling possession and linking to our attacking band, but couldn’t find a gap wide enough to get a shot. A Lamela corner kick found Alderweirald’s head like a hair gel-seeking missile and he smashed it into the net in the 44th minute. 1-2 at halftime.
Spurs shuffled their lineup at halftime. Dembele came in at the pivot, Alli moved to AM, and Son went to the bench. It was a fair benching. Son was not very productive or thrifty with his touches in the 25 minutes I watched him. Other than his corner kick, Lamela wasn’t much better. The second half started way better for Spurs. We took possession and basically bombarded their goal for the next 20 minutes. It wasn’t until the 67th minute that the Yachties had their first scoring chance of the second half and a few more minutes before they strung together 5 consecutive passes. Spurs, on the other hand, were purposeful and probing in their attack. When he was on the ball, Dembele used his body to dribble past defenders with a long, galloping stride. It would interrupt the defensive alignment as players are pulled toward the ball. Erikson and Alli were very potent in their on-the-ball movement and passing. Lots of cool cheeky stuff to create chances. Erikson fizzed a couple of crosses inside the 6 yard box but was unable to find feet. Alli ripped a gorgeous volley from 25 yards out that was dipping under the bar and forced a good save from the Yachties’ GK. Kane, on the other hand, just couldn’t find his stroke. Extraneous touches meant that every shot he had was blocked by the defender. I don’t know if he’s lacking confidence or has tired legs or is just having a bad run of luck but we really need his finishing. The following shows his shot chart. Two of the gray arrows are from so close that he has to score at least one of those. The blue arrow up the middle I’ll get to.
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For comparison, here’s Erikson’s pass chart. He takes corners so that accounts for some of the red arrows but look how many times he put the ball into a dangerous area:unnamed-1
And here’s Lamela’s pass and shot chart. Too many backward passes although he did get the corner kick assist and nearly had a second on a sweet dipping cross than Kane and Alli both came up short on where the slightest touch would have been a goal.
xxx
In that 20 minute burst we created so many chances and not all of them turned into shots. The announcer repeatedly referred to Monaco’s defense as “besieged” but we could find the touch that would put it in the back of the net. In the 70th minute Lamela came off and Janssen came on. Kane slid back as a central AM. Janssen was well suited for the game. His physical off-the-ball play negated the Monaco CBs and opened up the channels for through balls. Again we created a couple of good chances but couldn’t put them in the net. The best was a through ball that Janssen won in a footrace turned Greco-Roman wrestling match. He managed to get around his defender right at the touch line, gathered the ball and hit Kane with a tight pass. Kane hit it right into the hands of the dumbfounded GK–the blue arrow in his shot chart. The whole Spurs side basically sighed and the game was over. Sissoko came on for Erikson in the 80th and Monaco enjoyed spells of possession. Some of our guys walked while they had the ball. It was frustrating and the Yachties conga lined their way around the ball not doing much but not giving it away and the clock ticked away. We managed a few more chances but it all felt increasingly desperate and far-fetched. The game ended 1-2 to the Yachties. Fucking Yachties. Below is our xG map. I think it undersells how dominant we were in creating chances since a chance only gets an xG value if it becomes a shot. For example, one of those tiny dots from the top right of Tottenham’s chart was that teasing ball that either Kane or Alli could have gotten before the keeper snapped it up at the back post. Either touch would have been a goal and xG of close to 0.5. The end result and the xG tally would look a lot different.
unnamed-3
This was a poor result. We really needed to win this. I blame Fox Sports West.
The upside is that we’re a better team that Monaco and we can win there. More importantly, Levekusen was supposed to destroy CSKA at home but managed a draw. Our next CL match is away to CSKA in 2 weeks. That will be one of the 3 matches we have to win.

Author: DanielLevyLoveChild

Grew up in America and while everyone else played and watched hillbilly sports like basketball or American "football", as the ever contrarian I am, I instead decided to follow the world's greatest sport - "soccer." And logically the love of the sport found me becoming a fan of world's most professional and world class team; the Tottenham Hotspurs!

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