A promising performance saw us get men between the lines, but fail to find the net, as it finished Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid in Melbourne.
Our second International Champions Cup match ended in defeat with the score Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid at the final whistle. There were plenty of positives, as we dictated and controlled much of the match.
Atletico strong setup
Atletico Madrid went with a strong line-up.
Their 4-4-2 setup was very aggressive to start the match. Their strikers were looking to play high and pressure our centre backs. On an average, bobbing pitch they tried to do two things. Firstly, to try and get a loose touch out of Cameron Carter-Vickers or Anton Walkes. Secondly, to force them to be indecisive. A moments pause on the ball saw both centre backs then have to play out of trouble as the Atletico midfield closed in behind the strikers.
Working outwards from the middle, Fernando Torres and Hector Hernandez Marrero forced our centre backs out wide where they could be hemmed in by the sideline.
Spurs navigate the Atletico pressure
Atletico opened the game strongly. Their tactics put us on the back foot and forced a number of set pieces and corners.
Once Cameron Carter-Vickers and Anton Walkes became more assured with their touches, we began to navigate Atletico’s press. Combined with this was the play of Harry Winks. He positioned himself nicely behind Torres and Hector and in front of the Atletico Madrid midfield.
This saw Winks start to dictate play through the middle of the park. The way through Atletico is often by stationing men between the lines to break their narrow defensive formation. Spurs did that with Winks in the first space between the strikers and midfield. Erik Lamela was then buzzing in the next space up the pitch between the Atletico midfield and defence.
We created a number of chances occupying these spaces between the lines. DeAndre Yedlin earned a corner that saw Josh Onomah ping an effort off the bar. Lamela then rung a shot off the inside of the post after getting between the lines to exchange passes with Vincent Janssen.
The play of Vincent Janssen was much better here. Involved more in the game, Janssen’s play reminded me a lot of Rickie Lambert when under Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton. Lambert came towards the ball, had the strength to hold it up and then the passing ability to find runners going in to the spaces beyond him.
Vincent Janssen was exactly that here. After just six minutes he held the ball up, spun off the defender and found Christian Eriksen running past him for a low drive that caught Oblak offguard, almost sneaking in. His strength and neat layoff then found Lamela when he raced through and hit the post. Janssen then did the same once more when involved to set up Ryan Mason’s fierce first-time drive that was well saved by Oblak.
Janssen also has a Lambert-esque shot. He hits the ball hard and true with good accuracy. His arrowing free-kick was bound for the far corner before a sprawling Oblak clawed it around the post.
Atletico set pieces
A constant threat throughout the first half was Atletico Madrid’s set pieces. Diego Simeone works tirelessly on them and they proved to be his side’s best way to goal.
Fernando Torres headed a corner over the bar when well positioned, but the best chances fell to Diego Godin. The centre back had a header that was just wide of the far post from a corner. Then, he nodded just past the near post from a free kick that was cleverly reversed to the other side of the field.
Godin put his side in front from another free kick. The set piece came from a Christian Eriksen turnover. The Dane passed the ball straight to Thiago who sent it forward to Thomas Partey. He danced passed both Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks, before being felled from behind.
The free kick saw us fail to deal with the Atletico overload at the far post. Cameron Carter-Vickers was left 2v1. It also saw two Atletico players go early and in to offside positions. Had Anton Walkes left it, he would’ve been fine. However, unsure whether those behind him were offside or not, he got under the ball as he tried to clear, flicking it on to Godin with the goal at his mercy.
After the balance of power in the match had swung towards us, it was now Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid as they made one of their set pieces pay.
Second half switches
At half time Mauricio Pochettino made some interesting changes. His move to bring on Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll saw him get a trio of passers in to central midfield. This took away from our ball recovery, but did get us possession between the Atletico lines more often.
The result was two good chances for Mason after bursts forward to get between the lines in the inside right channel. The first saw Oblak make an excellent reaction save. Either side of the keeper and Mason would’ve scored.
His second opportunity was almost a carbon copy. This time he struggled to sort his feet out and was tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Unfortunately for Mason, it was the last opportunity of the game. Any chance of salvaging something went with it, as it finished Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid in front of 42,000 fans.
Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid overall
Another good pre-season workout against another potential Champions league opponent. The side looked to be a step quicker than against Juventus on Tuesday. A better quality of playing surface and we may have been able to move the ball quicker to have increased our chances of opening up Europe’s best defence.
The chances were there from getting between the lines, but you have to take them against Atletico otherwise you will get punished.
Final score: Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid.
MOTM: Harry Winks.