Harry Kane scores a penalty kick during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup match in Orlando, Florida, USA.

PSG 2-4 Spurs: opening up the inside channels

Successfully opening up the inside channels saw us win our International Champions Cup match PSG 2-4 Spurs in Orlando.

In the searing Orlando heat, Spurs caught fire after a slow start. Getting to grips with the challenge, a narrow PSG team was stretched, the inside channels were opened up and Tottenham cruised to victory. The final score finished PSG 2-4 Spurs for our first International Champions Cup victory.

Sloppy Spurs

The opening five minutes looked like a first game of preseason. The lack of cohesion was evident, as was a certain amount of rust and fitness.

Inside the first minute, we were caught pressing as individuals rather than as a unit. PSG played through us with one pass and were beyond our high defensive line. Fortunately, Edinson Cavani headed wide. Two minutes later, Eric Dier casually gave the ball away with an ill-advised square pass on the edge of our box. Luckily Thiago Motta rashly blasted over.

The third sloppy error was fatal. Once more, a single pass obliterated our disjointed attempt to press and released a PSG player through our high defensive line. Kyle Walker-Peters was caught too high. More alarmingly, Cameron Carter-Vickers indecisiveness left him in no man’s land.

Adrien Rabiot beats Cameron Carter-Vickers to the ball during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup match in Orlando.

Adrien Rabiot beats Cameron Carter-Vickers to the ball.

Adrien Rabiot nicked the ball in front of the centre back and hurtled in to the wide-open space beyond him. Rabiot had the simple task of squaring for Edinson Cavani to make it PSG 1-0 Spurs.


Pairing youngsters Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kyle Walker Peters on the right side of our back four was an obvious area to attack. PSG had opened them up to take the lead. They would then expose the duo’s positioning to level the scores at PSG 2-2 Spurs just before half time.

Kyle Walker-Peters was caught too far up field, unaware of where his centre back was. Cameron Carter-Vickers was too deep, oblivious to where his defensive partners were and played three PSG players onside.

Cameron Carter-Vickers plays three players onside including goalscorer Javier Pastore during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup match in Orlando, Florida.

Cameron Carter-Vickers plays three players onside.

Javier Pastore waltzed in through the acres of space left available to him to receive the ball and calmly slot in to the top corner of the net.

Eriksen vs PSG shape

PSG started much the better of the two sides. The French team had already played an International Champions Cup match and looked to have the fitness edge over us in our debut game. However, taking the lead, PSG then dropped back and invited us on, which became their downfall.

Playing a 4-3-3 formation, PSG wanted to control the middle of the pitch through their midfield trio. They tried to keep them together, but Tottenham’s width provided by full backs Ben Davies and Kyle Walker-Peters, stretched them. Space was thus afforded in the centre and Christian Eriksen took advantage.

Eriksen became an increasing factor throughout the first half. His through balls and link play opened up the inside channels, often accompanied by the oohs and aahs of the crowd.

He christened his display with a stunning strike. The ball was worked wide and then back inside to the Dane with one pass. Fearing another through ball, the PSG midfield trio retreated back towards the penalty area. Eriksen was thus invited forwards and he didn’t need to be asked to have a go at goal. One sweet strike of his right foot unleashed a venomously dipping drive that flew in to the top corner. Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp had no chance, victim of an early goal of the season contender.

PSG back off inviting Christian Eriksen to shoot durinG PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup match in Orlando.

PSG back off inviting Christian Eriksen to shoot.

Trapp door

Beaten by an unstoppable drive, the game quickly went downhill for Kevin Trapp. Trying to pass out from the back, Eric Dier pounced on him to deflect the ball in to his net as Spurs took a 2-1 lead.

Spurs press Kevin Trapp and Eric Dier scores during PSG 2-4 Spurs in Orlando.

Spurs press Kevin Trapp and Eric Dier scores.

Trapp then received a red card for crazily handling the ball outside his area, as he used one hand and then the other in a state of blind panic.

His own ludicrous positioning didn’t help. The keeper was alarmed by the run of Harry Kane in-behind the PSG back line and the long ball towards him by Toby Aldereweireld. However there was no need for Trapp to race out of his box when there was enough speed on the ball to comfortably come through to him.

Alderweireld goes long for Kane's run during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup in Orlando.

Alderweireld goes long for Kane’s run.

Red card changes

Mauricio Pochettino made a number of changes at half time. Having seen the success Eriksen was having in the inside channels, Pochettino introduced Dele Alli to accompany him. The pair operated just behind Harry Kane looking to expose these spaces further.

The duo was in these pockets of space occupying the back four on the red card incident – circled in the picture above. They continued to buzz in these areas throughout the second half. Their job was made easier as PSG played a 4-3-2 formation despite only having ten men.

Dele and Eriksen could work the spaces against ten men during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup in Orlando.

Dele and Eriksen could work the spaces against ten men.

In order to free them up, Spurs continued to use the full backs to stretch what was an increasingly narrow PSG team. Ben Davies and the newly introduced Kieran Trippier frequently saw the ball. The pair tried to draw PSG over towards them and then move the ball quickly back across the pitch.

Both full backs receiving and then shifting the ball back across was instrumental in goals three and four. Left back Ben Davies sucked PSG across towards him, affording space in the inside right channel for Toby Alderweireld to unleash a fearsome drive in to the corner of the net for number three.

PSG drawn to the left releases Alderweireld to score from the right during PSG 2-4 Spurs in the International Champions Cup.

PSG drawn to the left releases Alderweireld to score from the right.

Davies then chipped the ball out from a congested centre of the pitch to a wide-open Kieran Trippier. A tired PSG were so narrow at this point that Blaise Matuidi had to race out towards Trippier in an attempt to close him down.

Unable to slow himself, Matuidi blocked Trippier’s cross with his arm, conceding a penalty.

Davies finds Trippier in space against a narrow PSG defence during PSG 2-4 Spurs in Orlando.

Davies finds Trippier in space against a narrow PSG defence.

Harry Kane stepped up and despatched the spot kick to seal the win at PSG 2-4 Spurs.

PSG balls in-behind

Down to ten men throughout the second half, PSG were brave to play a 4-3-2 formation rather than the conventional 4-4-1 set up. They were constantly looking to play their two front men on the shoulders of our high defensive line as they looked for the ball in-behind.

Jese Rodriguez was a persistent threat as he looked to pull off the shoulder of Kevin Wimmer. Edinson Cavani equally caused problems, as did the runs of Antoine Bernede. PSG’s best chance fell to the youngster as he took advantage of the pensiveness of Kevin Wimmer. A momentary lapse from the Austrian allowed Bernede in on goal. Fortunately, Wimmer recovered to slide in and just get to the ball in the nick of time.

The game ended PSG 2-4 Spurs to the delight of the many Tottenham fans in Orlando.

PSG 2-4 Spurs overall

A sloppy start to our first preseason game was quickly turned in to a performance that Mauricio Pochettino could be happy with. Spurs opened up the inside channels through using full back width to stretch a narrow PSG team out.

There were a number of good performances. Christian Eriksen looked like he hadn’t taken a day off over the summer. Ben Davies was as solid and reliable as ever. Mousa Dembele was busy doing Mousa Dembele stuff.

There were also a few points for Mauricio Pochettino to consider. The Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kyle Walker-Peters combination on the right side of defence looked vulnerable. Both players need more experience around them rather than being paired together against top quality opposition at this early stage of their careers.

Equally Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Josh Onomah offered little in the wide midfield roles. Onomah looked so much more comfortable in central midfield during England’s U20 World Cup success that his continued use as a wide advanced midfielder baffles. GKN struggled to affect the game against the highly experienced Dani Alves.

Final score: PSG 2-4 Spurs.
MOTM: Christian Eriksen.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , , ,

6 Responses to PSG 2-4 Spurs: opening up the inside channels

  1. Bretto 25th July 2017 at 2:23 am #

    Hi Mark,
    Great summary. I’m not sure I would wholly agree with your summary of N’koudou’s performance. I thought he did okay against Alves considering where they are in their respective careers. A green winger who needs development versus a wily veteran still at the top of his game. GKN obviously still has lots to do but he was using his pace to turn Alves inside out a couple of times. So much so that Alves was getting frustrated and giving away some cheap fouls. I think the problem with GKN is his decision making and final ball. He can utilise his pace and trickery well enough but tends to dribble himself into dead ends and is too timid to come inside and test the keeper or link up with those around him.
    I hope Poch doesn’t give up on him. It certainly seems like the light has switched on for him towards the end of last season and he’s realised that he needs to work really hard in the EPL compared to Ligue 1. It helps that Dembele appears to be mentoring him.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      From watching the game on TV, Dani Alves seemed to be geting frustrated at what others eg Dembele were doing rather than GKN directly. I though GKN was rather anonymous other than that nice twist and run away from Alves up the touch line. I think he has potential and has shown some nice touches eg vs Kitchee, but he seems to want to do the same thing every time and it’s making him rather predictable. I’d like to see him mix it up a bit rather than always go on his right foot. It’s all rather Aaron Lennon-esque at the minute ie you know exactly what he’s going to do and smart defenders will just show him on his left to negate his speed.

  2. shubes 25th July 2017 at 8:22 am #

    Brilliant as always Mark loved many the points you raised. my worry for CCV and kwp is that if they don’t learn how to operate in the pot press they too like Mason and Nabil will have to move on. I hope we line up as a back 5 against Roma just to give these two young lads as much protection as possible

    Like you I am puzzled as to why Josh is made to play in a more attacking position when his performances for England show that he is clearly more suitable playing in a deeper role.

    This game was about gaining fitness for the upcoming season. A lack of fitness Plus rustiness is going to impact how we press which is a cornerstone of how the manager likes us to play.

    Is always going to be easier to play against 10 men but I did like how confident Eriksen was in the first half. The goalkeeper should have done better but the power certainly surprised him as well as the rest of us. Almost everything positive we did went through him and he is very intelligent and how he’s able to find space. While he started slowly last season if he can maintain the form e showed the last 7 months of the season I think we can challenge again.

    I’m not concerned about Wembley as much as others as when we have lost it has been to good sides like Chelsea and Monaco who I think surprised everybody with how good they were last season. With that in mind I’m surprised that Spurs didn’t lower their attendance fee for the Juventus friendly it is vital to build an atmosphere at Wembley

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 2:41 pm #

      I like CCV and KWP individually, they just can’t hold down one side of a back four at the minute. Both are too inexperienced. I’d like to see KWP given a go with Toby and Jan alongside him or Dier in a back three to see how he’d cope in what would be a more real-time situation.

      Onomah’s deployment continues to be a head-scratcher, again against Roma too! Would like to have seen him alongside Winks at the base of midfield and see how that pans out as a potential pairing.

  3. Matt 25th July 2017 at 8:46 am #

    I worry a bit about CCV. I know he’s rated very highly at Spurs but whenever I see him he’s looked shaky. Young I know, but when does one stop saying that….? Agree, the Onamah thing baffles me, it was a revelation seeing him in the U20s but he clearly looked a DM to me. Think we’ll see a backup RB? You’d think so given the work a Poch full back gets through.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      CCV does have some shaky moments and he looks better as part of a back three at the minute. Centre backs usually take longer to develop so I’m not too concerned with him at his current age. However, other than EFL or FA cup games i’m not sure of him getting the minutes that he needs to improve. Poch probably wouldn’t send him on loan as its not his way, so I am concerned he may struggle to kick on.

      I only think we’ll see a backup RB if Poch has a change of heart and thinks that KWP is not ready to be Trippier’s backup. Levy’s comments yesterday about unsustainable spending in football, investing in our youth set up and how Poch trusts the academy were very telling and serve to reinforce the opinion that this group of youngsters is going to be given a go.

      I actually quite like that Levy came out and said this to manage expectations. We can’t compete with the current spending or pay some of the bonko figures being quoted for average players, so we do need to find another way to compete and this is one option.