Our narrow setup was attacked with speed and width, which swelled the score to an embarrassing Girona 4-1 Tottenham in our final preseason match.
A young Spurs core with a spattering of first team talent was humiliated in Girona. The La Liga side took advantage of our narrow defensive setup and ran all over it. The match ended Girona 4-1 Tottenham in a heavy defeat that didn’t bode well for the new 4-3-3 formation.
The new 4-3-3 formation that has been used throughout preseason has seen both positives and negatives. Barcelona 2-2 Tottenham highlighted its susceptibility to teams that can switch the ball quickly wide. Girona adopted a similar ploy to their Catalan neighbours and dominated the scoreboard to win 4-1.
The key for Girona was often attacking the spaces outside and behind our full backs. Anthony Georgiou was standing in at left back and was torched by Cristian Portu. First team right back Serge Aurier should’ve been much more adept, but he was given a torrid time by Borja Garcia.
Girona moved the ball swiftly out to both Portu and Borja Garcia, which allowed them to use their pace before our full backs could get over and cover. The pair were at the heart of many of the good moves that Girona made.
Set piece start
In the searing heat the opening to the game was quite frenetic. Tottenham were trying to press and close down from the front. Girona wanted to adopt a medium block, win the ball back and counter quickly. It saw a fast beginning and each team earn and score a free kick from its tactical plan.
Lucas Moura gave Spurs a brilliant start. The Brazilian was pressing up the field and swept in to hoover up a partial clearance that dropped his way. A jinking dribble saw him upended on the edge of the box.
Moura smashed the set piece in to the far corner, staking a claim for more free kick duties this season.
Girona levelled two minutes later. The Catalan side had already given Tottenham a warning as an early ball was sent in behind our high line for Cristian Portu to steal in and get a shot away. The next pass earned a free kick on the edge of our box.
Girona’s wide players were key in their attack against our narrow defence during open play. At the set piece they remained wide to keep the ball in-play. Borja Garcia and Cristian Portu held their wide positions and this aided Girona’s rebound control.
David Timor’s strike thumped the post and went out wide. Portu kept the ball in. The arriving Juanpe met his chipped cross back in to the danger area. The stadium errupted as the La Liga team were immediately back on level terms.
Girona continue to attack the wide spaces
Girona were back in the game and would continue with their wide attack aimed at our full backs.
Twelve minutes later and they would take the lead. Tottenham had actually done a good job of sliding across defensively as the ball arrived at the Girona right back. However, Anthony Georgiou filling in at left back, was caught too high and the ball was immediately sent in-behind him.
Stand-in centre back Ben Davies was now isolated against the pace of Portu. Davies was no match for Portu’s speed. The wide forward’s pace, combined with a pull back of Davies shirt, left him trailing.
Easily in the clear, Portu squared for Anthony Lozano to roll the ball past a helpless Michel Vorm.
Open Tottenham errors punished
One of the positives of Mauricio Pochettino’s new 4-3-3 formation has been that it opens up in the attacking phase. The midfielders and wide forwards try to stretch the opposition by making the playing area as big as possible. However, being so open in the attacking phase does leave us extremely vulnerable when a poor turnover happens.
Errors in the attacking phase when being so open saw two more goals and a final score of Girona 4-1 Tottenham.
Timor’s interception went straight to Anthony Lozano. With our defence wide open, Lozano had the easiest of passes to play in Cristian Portu who had the simplest of finishes.
Eight minutes later and a Kyle Walker-Peters error whilst under pressure caught us wide open once more.
Ben Davies had surged forward from centre back thus leaving our defence exposed. His pass was slightly under hit and rushed Walker-Peters in to a miscue. Borja Garcia swept up the loose ball and played in Cristian Portu’s run.
Portu hit the post, but the arriving Aleix Garcia smashed the rebound in to the roof of the net. Girona 4-1 Tottenham and an absolute defensive meltdown.
Girona 4-1 Tottenham overall
An excellent Girona team woefully exposed the new 4-3-3 formation. Its narrowness in the defensive phase was pulled apart by swift passes to speedy wide players. As the formation opens up in the attacking phase, poor defensive errors left us stretched and wide open to counter attacks.
Better quality players coming back from World Cup duty will no doubt make this formation more of an option. However, they only return to training on Monday. With this current group of up-to-speed players, going against a Newcastle United team that relies on counter attacks and crossing, Mauricio Pochettino will need to explore other tactical setups.
Final score: Girona 4-1 Tottenham.
MOTM: Cristian Portu.