Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan: control of the half spaces

A dominant display in Oslo sees us control the half spaces as it finished Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan in our final preseason friendly.

Geoffrey Kondogbia must have felt hung out to dry. Exposed by his team’s formation, the defensive midfielder was left with far too much ground to cover. He was stretched and pulled around all over the place as it ended Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan in Oslo.

Geoffrey Kondogbia left exposed

Going with a 4-1-4-1 formation, Roberto Mancini had his side press right out of the gate. His front five were looking to close down the Spurs defence at every opportunity. Their aim was to pressure the centre backs and stop the ball going in to Ryan Mason and Eric Dier. They tried to force it out to the flanks whereby they could get their wide midfielders up and overload our full backs.

However, Inter’s pressure wasn’t energetic nor was it co-ordinated enough. Spurs easily broke through it. Quick movement of the ball, often involving Michel Vorm as an extra passer to switch the side of play, frequently bypassed it.


Spurs move the ball quickly through Vorm to negate Inter press.

The sharpness of Spurs’ ball movement, and Inter’s lack of co-ordination, meant players were often left free. Here Toby Alderweireld has time and space to pick a direct pass to Erik Lamela that actually breaks two lines of Inter’s defence.


Lamela and Alli get free in the half spaces around Kondogbia.

This pass also highlighted Inter’s other problem, leaving Geoffrey Kondogbia exposed. Ever Banega and Marcelo Brozovic were playing high up in front of him, leaving Kondogbia with acres of space to cover. Naturally with our inside drifting wider players like Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen joining Dele Alli in the centre, we had oceans of room to work in. Kondogbia was pulled around trying to mark them and received none or very late help from any of the quartet in front of him.

Spurs control the half spaces

These spaces around Kondogbia as the lone defensive midfielder in the 4-1-4-1 formation saw Spurs open up and ruthlessly expose Inter for six goals.

It started after just three minutes. Toby Alderweireld had time on the ball after we neatly moved it around and away from the Inter press. Inter were now caught up too high. With a huge space between their lines and Kondogbia isolated, Alderweireld sprayed one of his trademark diagonals out to Kyle Walker who was in absolute acres.


Alderweireld finds Walker in space.

Walker took the pass down and had space to run. Two seconds later and he was upended to win a penalty. Harry Kane despatched the spot kick, 1-0.

After our goal, Inter had a rare moment of success. Their offensive tactics were stifled by a lack of the ball and a deep starting position for their attacks.

Their main area of success was to get the ball to Ivan Perisic as early and often as possible. The Croatian would then look to either get a cross in or a shot. He created two good crosses for Mauro Icardi and also got them level at 1-1. A quick counter attack and early ball from Banega got Perisic in-behind Kyle Walker to rifle a shot in to the roof of the net.

Being on level terms was as good as it would get for Inter. Erik Lamela then scored a sumptuous curling effort to put us back in the lead. This time Harry Kane and Dele Alli had drifted in to the areas around Kondogbia to draw the defensive midfielder in. Lamela was left in oceans of space that shouldn’t exist straight through the middle of the pitch.


Lamela free as Kondogbia is pulled over towards Kane.

Lamela had time to take and touch, get his head up and pick his spot, Spurs 2-1 Inter Milan.

After the interval and more goals were added. Two became three as this time Dele Alli got in to the space around Kondogbia. He had time to receive the pass, turn and run towards the Inter Milan back line.


Alli gets in the pocket around Kondogbia as Janssen pins CB.

At this point, Vincent Janssen had come on. The passage of play looked like a neatly worked training ground manoeuvre. Janssen had already pinned his central defensive marker as Alli received the ball. Dele immediately looked for the 1-2 off Janssen and powered the return pass in to the corner of the net. Neatly worked, 3-1.

By this point, Inter Milan had started to loose what little structure and discipline they had. This played right in to our hands. We often see us establish a lead and then play swift counter attacking football once the opponent has to become more aggressive.

Inter started to throw more and more players forward and were caught again. This time it was Lamela in the space left open behind Kondogbia. He raced forward with two targets to choose from.


Lamela beyond Kondogbia with Janssen and Kane.

He opted for Kane, who dropped his shoulder, shimmied and arrowed a fierce drive in to the far corner, 4-1.

Number five came from exposing this space once more. Again, Dele Alli drifted in to the half space around Kondogbia, as two Spurs players were free in the area around the defensive midfielder.


Alli in the half space around Kondogbia.

Alli had time to take a touch, turn and dribble at the Inter Milan defence. He was brought down, but the ball ran free. Vincent Janssen was alert and pounced upon it, coolly finishing across Handanovic, 5-1.

Janssen had a really good forty-five minutes, showcasing numerous parts of his game. Strength, movement, passing, shooting and ball recovery were just a few. In spite of the lop-sided score line, he continued to close down when Inter tried to play out.

Janssen was heavily involved in the sixth goal. Good pressing from firstly him and then Lamela forced an under hit pass towards Geoffrey Kondogbia. Janssen pounced, using his strength and sizeable frame to shrug off the Inter Milan defensive midfielder. Kondogbia was left in a heap on the floor.


Janssen robs Kondogbia and heads towards goal.

With Kondogbia out of the game, the space around him opened up once again. Janssen could run at the back line that was all over the place from trying to play their way out under pressure.

He played a neat through ball for the better placed Erik Lamela. The pass was over hit though, forcing Lamela to have to scamper after it. Lamela showed great awareness though. Rather than take a tough shot on from a difficult angle, he cut it back. Arriving was Shayon Harrison who had the easiest of tasks to pass the ball in to the net. It was Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan and the rout was complete.

Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan overall

Geoffrey Kondogbia can rightly question his team mates and manager after this one. The French international didn’t have a great game, in fact he was pretty awful, but Mancini’s 4-1-4-1 setup left him woefully exposed.

The spaces afforded around him were rife for exploiting. With Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Erik Lamela all drifting towards the centre in our attacking phase, they just overran Kondogbia and the empty space around him.

Alli and Lamela in particular had a field day. Harry Kane also came more in to the game when he moved deeper to accommodate Vincent Janssen. It was a shame the pairing didn’t get more than 15 minutes together to see how they would work in tandem.

Janssen grabbed a goal and Kane struck twice to prove his Euro 2016 experience was nothing more than a blip. Normal service is resumed.

If you’re a betting man and fancy Harry Kane to keep firing the goals this season, then you should check out Betfair. They are offering a £5 free bet for each game he scores in up until Christmas. All you have to do is back him to be Premier League top scorer with a bet of £25 or more. Visit here to get on.

Overall, it was a good workout and the goals that our performances in Australia had deserved but didn’t get. Yes it is preseason and we’re not going to smack teams like Inter for six once the real games are underway. But the performance suggests we are more than ready for the campaign ahead and it is poised to be another exciting one. Bring it on!

Final score: Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan.
MOTM: Erik Lamela.

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2 Responses to Spurs 6-1 Inter Milan: control of the half spaces

  1. Grum 8th August 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    Great article as always. I was really impressed with Janssen’s strength on the ball and his work rate. Clearly really comfortable with his back to goal; that’s going to give us something very different from last season and allow our attacking midfielders to run on to, as you pointed out with Alli’s goal.

    As to the Mason debate in the comments under your previous article, I really see him more akin to Alli. Whilst he clearly needs to improve his finishing and his touch he does ghost behind the defence into really good scoring positions. I suspect that Poch will keep him part of the squad – he clearly sees something in him that he likes and thinks can be worked on.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th August 2016 at 5:39 pm #

      Cheers Grum. Janssen has done extremely well. I do wonder how much game time he’ll get when the season kicks off though? Definitely interested to see how Poch plays it with him and Kane and just how often he pairs them up or rotates them.

      I do think Mason is better deployed further forward, but i don’t think he is strong enough in either scoring goals or creating them. I also think he has hit the ceilling of how much he is going to develop. I do wonder if we are looking at bringing someone else in or maybe Poch feels we have enough depth that Mason is just useful to have around for certain situations where we have injuries and suspensions. Then there is the financial side. I’m not sure how much he earns, but coming through the ranks he is probably on less than you’d have to pay someone brought in from outside. So, without being first choice he could just be a useful stop gap option.