Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid: between the lines but failure to finish

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.


Torres and Hector press our centre centre backs.

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.


Atletico look to hem us 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.


Winks and Lamela got between the Atletico lines.

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.


Lamela loose between the lines ends up hitting the post.

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.


Carter-Vickers gets left 2v1.

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.


Mason gets between the lines in the inside right channel to shoot.

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.


Mason gets in through the same channel again.

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.

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11 Responses to Spurs 0-1 Atletico Madrid: between the lines but failure to finish

  1. Andy B 29th July 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    Winks was Spurs best player in both games. Unless we bring in more players, I think he would be the best player to cover Dembele’s position for the first 4 games.

    I think Dier and Winks would play well together.

    The centre backs also played well.

    Spurs were unlucky not to win this game after hitting the crossbar and post and with Oblak making excellent saves.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th July 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      I figure the Inter friendly will give us a clue to how Poch is going to play Dembele’s absence. Maybe will be Dier and Winks. I have a sneaky suspicion it will be Dier and Wanyama.

  2. SonShine 29th July 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    Mason’s finishing was questionable, but he made those kind of ghost run into the box. His goal against Sunderland and Fiorentina last season highlighted that.

    Winks impressed us once again, should get the chance to spread his wings this season. Especially in Premier League.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th July 2016 at 5:38 pm #

      Mason’s finishing has never been strong and it concerns me about him moving forward as part of the team, and maybe why we’ve seen a few links with him moving on. I remember similar glaring opportunities missed from late runs in to the box at the start of last season against both Everton and Stoke at home. Maybe Poch knows this and it is why he struggled to get minutes last season?

  3. chu2ks 30th July 2016 at 11:11 am #

    I really enjoyed this game, and I believe it has answered a question I’ve been posing to my Spurs supporting mates, namely; Should Ryan Mason be played further up as part of the three, and who then subs in midfield when resting Dembele? Answer; Harry Winks.

    That young man has come on leaps and bounds, and the way he collects a pass and shields it before making a ‘simple’ follow-on pass is exemplary. It’s what I always wanted Bentaleb to do, and I think Poch has discovered that this lad does it better, and is content to do that – something I believe Bentaleb wasn’t.

    Mason is to me, a sub for Eriksen, starting on the left and drifting in, and he can play that position in a less technical way but more physical, or he could sub for Alli. But, which each passing game, it is becoming clearer that he should be one of the pivot midfield players, unless we play a 4-3-3.

    In my opinion, this could be Lamela’s real breakthrough year ( we say this every year, it seems), as I noticed he felt very comfortable in high company with Argentina at the Copa, and it’s reflecting in his play in this pre-season.

    The Janssen-Lambert comparison is spot-on, and I do believe in certain games we’re going to witness him and Kane doing a Lambert and Rodriguez from Poch’s Saints reign.

    I’m undecided about Onomah, and I think he’d benefit from a loan where he’d be guaranteed playing time. Son doesn’t seem to know where he should be positioned, in my opinion and Chadli isn’t asserting himself enough.

    Dominic Ball can do an Eric Dier, looked more comfortable in midfield, and Cameron Carter-Vickers has earned that Toby back-up spot in my books.

    My two cents, peeps. Roll on the season. COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th July 2016 at 5:57 pm #

      Great post Chu2ks. Winks should’ve played himself more in to Poch’s plans with his performances in these two games. He does look a step up on Bentaleb in every department, apart from ball recovery where Nabil is better. I do wonder where Bentaleb has gone as he showed so much promise, the errant sideways passes apart, in his first season and a half?

      Lamela does look poised for a big year. My only worry is that he looks so sharp in preaseason, like he hasn’t taken a game off, that he actually hasn’t had that much rest time since the Copa America Final (27 June) and that he’ll burn out with all the games we have across four competitions. The England lads lost to Iceland (also on 27 June) and they weren’t brought on this tour and have only just come back, so it does concern me.

      I like Onomah, he does still need a lot of work though, but it would be good to see what he can do by giving him some games in the FA and Capital One Cups. Chadli looks and plays like someone who is out of the door. Not sure if he is just waiting for is agent to find him a new club or is still smarting from being left out of the Belgian Euro 2016 squad. His lack of effort is not even putting him in the shop window though.

      Agree about Ball, I don’t think he is going to make it at this level as a centre back. With him Dier and Wanyama at defensive midfield, we would be stacked at this position if he can make the step up!

  4. chu2ks 30th July 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Mason -*shouldn’t be one of the pivot midfield players*

  5. Euan 30th July 2016 at 9:46 pm #

    The thing about youth members is that they need to be reliable. One can take a punt on strikers and see how it goes but CBs are another story. If a forward doesn’t score then that’s as bad as it gets and they can always be subbed. But a bad day at the office in the centre of defence and the game is over. Sadly for us that makes them a really premium commodity across world football. None the less since our revenues are high so I’d really like to see a proven CB come in as I think we can afford it and it wold really add tp the squad. if not this season maybe a slow courtship of Van Dyce would be fruitful? With the main striker and mange out he may be up for grabs. Is there anybody that you realistically covet?

    Also I agree that we need one more pass unlocker. Can I ask the same question in that position? Mason is a decent player but I can’t see him turning much better for us.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 31st July 2016 at 11:53 am #

      Virgil van Dijk is a nice player and one that would suit our system. I do feel Southampton got a bit of a bargain, even though he was £11.5m, as I only see his price increasing. I’ve waxed lyrical about him on here before and he would be a great buy if he could be prized away.

      Others that i covet? I think Cameron Carter-Vickers is ready and should be given a shot. Having invested so much time in him, I think he is now ready for a few games. Of realistic signings that would fit the profile of players we are after – young, good on the ball, athletic, good attitude – then i like Jason Denayer and Diego Llorente – He’s 22 now and Madrid may be looking to sell after loaning him to Rayo last season.

      As for passing players then Mahmoud Dahoud would be my top choice. I would really like to see us make a bid for him. Another that has caught my eye when i’ve seen him is Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso. Both could do a job for us.

  6. Grum 1st August 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    CB? I liked the look of Davis in that position for Wales – he had an excellent tournament. I thought he actually looked more comfortable there than he does at LB.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd August 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      Davies did look good for Wales and he has stepped in once or twice for us with differing performances. He was on the left side of a three for Wales and having Williams and Chester alongside him definitely helped him through the game. If we played a back three I could see him filling the role, i’m not sure in a centre back pair though.