Our opening pre-season friendly finished Juventus 2-1 Spurs after their pressing caused errors, but then we opened up the inside left channel.
A good exercise in Melbourne started off horrendously with two goals conceded inside fifteen minutes. As has been the way under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs didn’t give up and fought back in the second half. A goal and several other good chances through the inside left channel couldn’t stop the final score of Juventus 2-1 Spurs.
Juventus press our centre backs
Mauricio Pochettino trusts youth and his starting line-up revealed a real conviction in that. A back four that hadn’t played together, which included a very inexperienced centre back pairing. Add in to this a left back in Will Miller, who usually plays in midfield or as a number ten.
We didn’t have to wait long to see what Massimiliano Allegri was going to do about this. The Juventus coach set his side up in a 4-3-1-2 and pressured our inexperienced youngsters. He had his centre forwards close off the middle with the help of Miralem Pjanic from the number ten position.
Every time Spurs had the ball at the back, Paulo Dybala and Roberto Pereyra would stay tight to stop the ball going in to Victor Wanyama. Once they had forced the pass to be played to either Cameron Carter-Vickers or Dominic Ball out wide, they would close and press. They were looking to exploit any errant touches or either centre back trying to pass over what was a very bobbly and uneven surface.
They didn’t have to wait long to exploit this as our errors at the back saw them open a two-goal lead.
The surface, a lack of time on the ball and inexperience saw Juventus strike twice inside fifteen minutes.
The first arrived from three of our back four all making a mistake. Miralem Pjanic intercepted Will Miller’s casual pass. Ryan Mason won possession back, but as he sent the ball towards Dominic Ball, it bobbled and caused a miss-control. Ball then wanted too much time when being closed down and Pereyra stripped him of possession.
Pereyra was in after gliding past a half-bloodied challenge by Cameron Carter-Vickers. He then had the easy task of squaring to Dybala to finish. One goal, three errors.
The second then came after two more errors. Juventus had successfully forced the ball out towards the sideline through their pressing. Son Heung-Min was in a crowd when he tried in ill-advised lob pass back towards Cameron Carter-Vickers. The ball went over the American International’s head, putting Dybala in.
Michel Vorm saved his shot, but it forced a corner. Dominic Ball failed to clear the set piece with any conviction, getting it caught under his feet. It went straight to Miralem Pjanic who crossed back for Mehdi Benatia to head home after shoving Kieran Trippier in the back, 2-0.
It was really a half to forget. We barely managed to get out due to Juventus’ pressing and the errors we were committing. After twenty minutes, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Dominic Ball switched sides and it seemed to steady the pairing after their nervy start. Ball had looked like a fish out of water as the left centre back, but was more composed when on the right.
Half time substitutions
Mauricio Pochettino made four good substitutions at half time.
Off came the ineffective Nacer Chadli and Son Heung-Min. The much more energetic Josh Onomah and Erik Lamela replaced them.
Harry Winks came on for Ryan Mason. Winks progressed the ball much quicker and more vertically through midfield, which got us moving forward faster.
DeAndre Yedlin replaced Will Miller to get two proper full backs on the field. This aided us to establish higher attacking positions in the wide areas and helped us hem Juventus in when pressing. Yedlin looked extremely comfortable on the left, his unnatural side.
Erik Lamela in the inside left channel
In the first half we had looked very disjointed. After the four changes, our advanced midfield trio of Josh Onomah, Tom Carroll and Erik Lamela played extremely narrow.
This helped us overrun Juventus between the lines and particularly through the inside left channel. Erik Lamela was drifting in and looking to burst through here at every opportunity.
Harry Winks’ passing aided the trio. He got play moving quickly and neatly. It allowed us to operate higher up the field both with and after losing the ball. This in turn meant that Victor Wanyama’s position was much higher, meaning our ball recapture was closer to the Juventus goal.
Our first real sighter came as Wanyama recovered possession in the Juventus half. He then fed it in to Lamela’s run through the inside left channel to fizz a shot past the post.
Lamela would then pull one back as the combination worked again. Wanyama was pressing high up, stripped the ball and played it instantly forward.
It deflected in to the path of Lamela who slid a neat finish across the turf in to the far corner. The score was now Juventus 2-1 Spurs and the momentum was shifting.
Mauricio Pochettino continued to make changes, but Erik Lamela through the inside left channel was a constant. His tigerish winning back of the ball earned a free kick that he quickly took to spring Josh Onomah between the lines.
Lamela raced forward through the inside left channel and took the return to sting Neto’s palms.
With the score still at Juventus 2-1 Spurs and the clock ticking round to 90 minutes, Lamela created the final chance of the game. Again, it was through the inside left channel, as his neat through ball sprung Shayon Harrison. His shot was low and hard towards Neto’s near post, but a brilliant reaction saved denied him.
Time ran out and despite a brilliant fight back, the game ended Juventus 2-1 Spurs in front of 31,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Juventus 2-1 Spurs overall
A good training exercise that angered and pleased in equal measure. An awful first half was followed by an excellent second.
Juventus gave us problems with their pressing of our centre backs. This was alleviated in the second half, as they dropped off with a two-goal lead, content to play on the counter attack. Combined with Mauricio Pochettino making changes, it saw us create several good chances and score through the inside left channel.
Mauricio Pochettino has plenty to ponder ahead of Atletico Madrid on Friday. The make-up of our defence will be top of his list. Starts for impressive substitutes Harry Winks, Josh Onomah, DeAndre Yedlin and Marcus Edwards will be close behind. Also on there will be whether to give another chance for the improving Cameron Carter-Vickers? He grew in to the game after a nervy start following Dominic Ball’s blunders.
It’ll be a different type of match against a top class team. A reactive opponent will pose another unique set of challenges that will ready us for the test of the Champions League.
Final score: Juventus 2-1 Spurs.
MOTM: Erik Lamela.