Juventus 2-1 Spurs: press stress vs inside left channel

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.


Juventus keep the ball out of the middle then press the CBs.

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.

Spurs errors

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.


Pererya robs Ball.

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.


Son’s inaccurate lob pass under pressure springs Dybala.

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.


Narrower AMF trio + Wanyama and Winks playing higher.

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’s shot from the inside left channel just misses.

Lamela would then pull one back as the combination worked again. Wanyama was pressing high up, stripped the ball and played it instantly forward.


Wanyama recovers the ball high up to spring Lamela.

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.


Spurs between the llines with Lamela in inside left channel.

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.


Lamela finds Harrison through the inside left channel.

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.

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16 Responses to Juventus 2-1 Spurs: press stress vs inside left channel

  1. Richard 26th July 2016 at 7:00 pm #

    I would have much preferred to have seen Pritchard play in this game. I cannot believe he is being ditched. Surely he is Spurs best prospect to come out of the academy in years.

    Only Kane has really made it, from the academy so far. It appears that the Spurs academy is overrated and not very successful in getting quality players into the first team.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2016 at 7:20 pm #

      There were many of us with high hopes for Pritchard, myself included. Unlike many past Spurs managers, I do trust Pochettino to make the right calls though. He does see the players every day in training, so Pritchard must not be delivering what he wants. If he does deem Pritchard to be surplus to requirements than i’m ok with that and trust his judgement.

      It’s only been a short time since we’ve turned to the academy, which needs time to devlop results. Previous managers’ instincts were to buy and the squandering of the Bale money, along with funding the new stadium, has prompted this new direction. We have a lot of good prospects coming through – Carter-Vickers, Harrison, Edwards and Winks to name just a few – and they’ll need time to develop. We can’t make turning to youth our policy and then criticise when it doesn’t instantly generate a factory of finished articles. The development of some of our younger players is very promising, but Kane and the speed of his success is a one-off.

      Pochettino says the plan is ahead of schedule. I like what i’ve seen so far, so i’m good with it continuing at this pace and on his terms of who comes and goes.

      • Richard 26th July 2016 at 7:41 pm #

        You make some good points. Only time will tell. I hope that Pochettino knows what he is doing, but I have doubts. It is clear to anyone who knows football how gifted Pritchard is as a footballer.

        Pochettino got lucky last year with Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool all in transition. Even Everton who have just as good players as Spurs, under performed, through bad management.

        It is easy for supporters to have blind faith in a manager who got Spurs into the champions league, but if the top teams had been on form, we may have finished outside of the champions league places.

        As Pochettino had a good season, he may also believe that he can get away with making poor football decisions, without people questioning him. The situation with Pritchard may be nothing to do with a football decision. It could even be a personal thing. If Pochettino had a bad season, then far more supporters would be questioning him.

        I think it will be difficult for Spurs to get into the top four this year. Spurs really need to make the most of the champions league, because who knows when they will qualify for it again.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2016 at 7:21 pm #

          I believe in Pochettino as he seems to know what he wants from each player at each position. If they don’t have the characteristics or fitness levels he requires to fulfil their role, then they are gone.

          Discipline is also important and he likes players that are committed to the squad. If you act up eg Townsend, then you are gone. This is why I like him and trust his judgement. He won’t have players forced on him that he doesn’t want, which has been the case previously at Spurs with Levy’s meddling.

          It will be more difficult this season with all the other sides re-tooling and top four will be tough, but I like the path we are taking right now whether we reach top four or otherwise.

          • Richard 28th July 2016 at 11:23 am #

            That is a good reply. I like and respect what you have said.

            My main concern is that Spurs are lacking creativity in attack. They often find it difficult to break teams down, who sit back and defend in numbers. Pritchard offers something a bit different to Erikson, Lamela and Alli, and in my opinion would be an excellent asset to have.

            I am also concerned about academy players being sold on too quickly, before they have a chance to play in the first team.

            I think that it would have been better, with just 2 weeks to go until the season starts, for Pochettino to be spending time with the first team in UK, rather than the other side of the world with the youth players. Playing Everton away, with Koeman in charge, is a very tricky game and surely needs better preparation.

            • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th July 2016 at 3:57 pm #

              I agree with you about the tour. Australia is a long way to go so soon before the season. I do understand that there are commitments to sponsors and that the club has to market itself globally and that these tours are part of that. How much Pochettino was onboard with the decision is not easy to guess as it would’ve been made by Levy and the board. We only went for one game in America last season as Poch wanted time with the players, so he may have had to accept a longer promotional one this time. At least he was able to leave the lads involved in the Euros behind.

              We do sell some players on quickly, that is the business of football though. The club doesn’t want to be paying wages or offering contracts to players that it doesn’t think will make it. The players themselves also will want to be playing or at least getting sub appearances, so its difficult to balance both the books and manage expectations. To be honest, I’m struggling to think of any I’d regretted us letting go. Players we’ve signed, sure, but not academy lads. I don’t think any we’ve let go in the last few years will have us in a Pogba type situation where we’d have to shell out a load of money just to buy them back.

              We do, like many other teams, struggle to break down bus parkers. I think Poch at least now has options with Janssen coming in to go two up top, but I, like you, believe we do need another creative passing player. Whether this is someone to play as a number ten or deeper as a number eight, I believe its an option we need. Pritchard maybe could’ve been that player, but if Pochettino wasn’t seeing good signs from him in training then maybe he isn’t the guy we thought he was. He did go on loan to WBA and couldn’t get in their team, so maybe he doesn’t have the ability at this level. He smashed it up at Brentford, but the Premier League is several steps up. We all, myself included, thought Tom Carroll was going to be the next big thing, but he has plateaued and not reached the heights we thought he would, so maybe Pritchard is the same. He is 23 now, not 19 or 20, so decisions need to be made whether he has a future. He still has three years left on his current deal, so that’s a long time of having to pay wages if he is not going to reach the levels required to be a first team regular.

              • Richard 28th July 2016 at 4:53 pm #

                What you say is all very interesting and spot on.

                I was glad to hear Pochettino singing the praises of Will Miller today. He looked real quality against Juventus and was totally played out of position at left back. Normally he plays as an attacking midfielder, so maybe he can fill the creative gap. Who knows? It is early days, so we will wait and see.

                I am not sure about Pochettino’s comments on not needing a defender. He made similar comments about not needing another striker (as cover for Kane) at the beginning of last season.

                It would make sense to bring in a right sided centre back, as cover for Alderweireld. Cameron Carter Vickers plays as a left sided centre back. Maybe he is able to play on the right side as well? Dominic Ball had a dodgy start against Juventus, so not sure he would be good enough as cover.

                Pochettino also mentioned Dier and Wanyama can play at centre back. I think it would be better to have at least two players for each position, so if one of them was playing at centre back, then we wouldn’t have cover for defensive midfield.

                • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th July 2016 at 7:25 pm #

                  I agree about the centre back situation and its something i’ve often talked about on here during last season as Alderweireld played virtually every game. Cameron Carter-Vickers should get the chance, but if Poch doesn’t deem him suitable or ready then we need to get someone in. I think Dier and Wanyama should be emergency cover in the worst case scenario that we have no other options due to injuries.

  2. Matt 26th July 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    Insightful analysis as ever. Did you see enough to draw any conclusions about Janssen?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      Good question Matt. He really wasn’t in the game enough first half to make many conclusions. He started to become more of a presence when Lamela and Onomah came on and we began to get players higher up the pitch to be closer to him. He linked up nicely with Lamela, especially on Erik’s shot just passed the post. However, he was then taken off, which was a shame given how he was more involved after the interval.

      Hopefully he’ll get some good game time with both Lamela and Eriksen on Friday so we can see how it begins to work with two definite starters playing alongside him.

  3. freeflow12 26th July 2016 at 11:57 pm #

    Could we see more of Winks’ wings this season ?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      I think we will.

  4. Chazza 27th July 2016 at 12:07 am #

    Great report again, Mark. I’m looking forward to Janssen starting again next game, this time with Lamela, and a more confident back 4 and the likes of Winks and Ericsen, hopefully, passing UP-field.
    At least Winks shows confidence. It’s what stands him out from the other tyros… same with Edwards and Teflon.
    I am so irritated by this negative, dangerous and aimless back-passing, which oftentimes is a simple case of passing the buck. And especially the back-to-the-keeper stuff! We seem to do it to death… even Hugo had trouble with it at times last season.
    I know Poch likes to build attack from the back but it seems like teams have worked it out and pressing hard gets us into trouble.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2016 at 7:28 pm #

      Good point Chazza. Dealing with pressing will be something we’ll get tested at this season, especially when facing Guardiola and Klopp.

  5. Chazza 27th July 2016 at 3:27 am #

    Teflon??? Spellchecker at its best. It was supposed to read Yedlin!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2016 at 7:30 pm #

      lol maybe Teflon will be his new nickname ;)