Left back Luca Pellegrini was repeatedly exposed as it finished Roma 1-4 Tottenham in our International Champions Cup match.
Mauricio Pochettino wheeled out a sporadically seen formation as he went 4-3-3. However, it allowed us to relentlessly attack young Roma left back Luca Pellegrini. Four goals were the result as our International Champions Cup match ended Roma 1-4 Tottenham in San Diego.
Tottenham 4-3-3 formation
Mauricio Pochettino has briefly flirted with the 4-3-3 formation during his time in charge of Tottenham. In San Diego, he used it to achieve two distinct aims.
Firstly, in order to surround Fernando Llorente with two quick and skilful players. Llorente is not a mobile striker and he struggled with being an isolated front man last season. With Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura buzzing around him, Llorente could be the hold-up, lay-off and target man for crosses that he excels at.
Second, Lamela and Moura were tasked with attacking the spaces left by Roma’s advanced full backs.
Davide Santon and Luca Pellegrini both wanted to get forward and help press to regain the ball and then attack. Spaces were left however and Tottenham exploited them to the full in cruising to a 4-1 victory.
The match started with Roma aggressively closing down. Spurs struggled as they sought to play through what was a lively and energetic press. Coupled with a makeshift back line and Tottenham were in all sorts of problems.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ben Davies was a surprise centre back pairing. Both players looked like they hadn’t worked together before and huge gaps appeared between them. Throw in the erratic Serge Aurier at right back and it’s easy to understand why Roma were so aggressive in their press from the start.
Three minutes were all that Roma needed to take a 1-0 lead. Left back Luca Pellegrini pressed Serge Aurier deep in our half. The subsequent turnover ended up at the feet of Patrik Schick in acres of space between centre backs Ben Davies and Cameron Carter-Vickers.
If anything highlighted the different wavelengths our makeshift back line were on, it was this. It was also noticeable after the goal that Michel Vorm played directly up to Fernando Llorente much more often rather than try to build through the centre backs.
Tottenham attacking the Roma left back
Roma had targeted what it had identified as a weak Tottenham back line. Spurs then retaliated by attacking Roma’s perceived weakness, the space around left back Luca Pellegrini. The young full back was good at going forward, but suspect defensively. Spurs got at him and the spaces he left to rattle off four first half goals.
Tottenham draw level
Five minutes after going behind, Spurs were level through some equally good pressing.
Excellent closing down forced a long kick out by goalkeeper Antonio Mirante. Left back Luca Pellegrini cushioned down the clearance, but then set off up the line, leaving Javier Pastore in trouble.
Pastore was set upon by a combination of Luke Amos and Lucas Moura. The pair relieved him of the ball and laid it off to Erik Lamela. The wide forward could then slip the ball in to Amos in the area that left back Pellegrini had vacated.
Amos’ attempted cross in to the box flicked up off Maxime Gonalons. However, the arriving Fernando Llorente towered over Kostas Manolas to head in the equaliser.
Set piece attacks the Roma left back
After exposing the space Luca Pellegrini had vacated to draw level, Spurs took advantage of the young left back at a set piece.
Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen played a number of short corners in the match and this was another. At the far post, Lucas Moura and Cameron Carter-Vickers had isolated themselves against the smaller Pellegrini.
Carter-Vickers rose to meet Lamela’s surprising right-footed cross. As Carter-Vickers jumped, he pinned Pellegrini underneath his leap. Lucas Moura could sweep in behind and volley a terrific first time shot that was well saved by Mirante. However, the Roma goalkeeper palmed the ball back in to the danger area, straight to the waiting Fernando Llorente to get his second goal of the game.
More left back attacks
Taking the lead put a skip in the Tottenham stride as we pressed forward looking to add more goals.
We didn’t have to wait long as the exceptional Lucas Moura got in on the act, as we attacked left back Luca Pellegrini once more.
The passage of play saw us isolate Pellegrini with a two versus one, as Eriksen and Aurier drew the left back away from his back the four.
The subsequent good movement of Fernando Llorente then did two things. Firstly, centre back Juan Guilherme Nunes Jesus was drawn out with him. Secondly, left back Luca Pellegrini collapsed back in to help, creating room for Serge Aurier to deliver a cross.
Aurier’s ball in was excellent. The removal of one centre back from the middle by Llorente’s movement made room for the arriving Lucas Moura to power his header in to the corner of the net. Spurs were two up and cruising.
Left back attack for number four
Two minutes before half time and Lucas Moura made the score Roma 1-4 Tottenham as he finished off a sweeping end-to-end move.
By this point Roma’s press had begun to tire and it allowed one pass out from Ben Davies to get Erik Lamela straight on to their back line. More good movement by Fernando Llorente then drew one of the centre backs out with him. As a result, left back Luca Pellegrini had to pinch in to the middle, creating space for Moussa Sissoko.
The Frenchman raced in and although his cross was palmed out by goalkeeper Mirante, Lucas Moura slammed in the rebound. Roma 1-4 Tottenham and a truly excellent half of attacking football.
Second half switches
The second half saw Roma continue to press and Tottenham increasingly play on the counter attack. Both managers making a host of changes upset the flow and rhythm of the game.
Roma introduced their big names as De Rossi, Dzeko and Strootman all entered the match. As a result, Roma had a much better midfield shape and could increasingly control the play.
Mauricio Pochettino also made changes. He went to a back three with the introduction of Davinson Sanchez. Seeing how Roma were then increasingly getting down the sides of the three centre backs, Pochettino reverted to a back four with the introduction of Anthony Georgiou. The team subsequently saw the game out as it ended Roma 1-4 Tottenham for an excellent preseason workout.
Roma 1-4 Tottenham overall
Mauricio Pochettino’s use of a 4-3-3 formation was the standout takeaway from this match. The setup achieved the aim of getting players around Fernando Llorente. Two goals for the centre forward showed that he still has something to offer.
The formation also allowed us to expose the inexperienced Roma left back, Luca Pellegrini. Four goals were all scored through attacking him and his zone.
Standout performances from Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela were equally pleasing. Lamela looked back to his pesky best after long-term injury. It’s also difficult not to be excited by the play of Lucas Moura, who could well be this season’s big differential.
Luke Amos also put on an excellent display. His role in the first goal typified his excellent ball recovery and forward bursts from defensive midfield throughout the match.
Final score: Roma 1-4 Tottenham.
MOTM: Lucas Moura.