Harry Kane scores a goal during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Spurs 2-0 Juventus: use of wide players key to victory

Intelligent use of players in wide areas key to opening up Italian champions as it finished Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley.

Wide players come in different guises. Some retain width, hugging the touchline and stretching opponents. Others drift inside to pop up in areas that the opposition don’t expect them to be. Mauricio Pochettino used both types to win our last preseason match by a score of Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Spurs vs Juventus narrow shape

Facing a highly organised Roma side 10 days ago aided Mauricio Pochettino when facing another well structured Italian team in Juventus. Tottenham had lacked natural width in that Roma match, so Pochettino ensured that there would be plenty of it here.

Juventus played very narrow and compactly without the ball. In response to this, Pochettino had Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies play extremely high up, almost hugging the touchline.

Davies and Trippier high against narrow opposition during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley.

Davies and Trippier high against narrow opposition.

Pochettino selected Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko to play narrowly ahead of the full backs. The advanced midfield trio occupied Juventus’ central zones of defence, creating space for Trippier and Davies to be heavily involved.

Trippier and Davies had space to play during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley.

Trippier and Davies had space to play.

Trippier and Sissoko

The selection of Moussa Sissoko was an eyebrow raiser given his current situation and rumoured move away from the club. The Frenchman had a very effective game though, highlighting his upside to potential suitors, but also indicating that he may somehow still have a future.

Sissoko’s selection saw him drift inside to create the lanes for Trippier to burst forward. However, Sissoko was also a menace in counter attack situations. The only player with real speed in the team, he tormented and bullied a Juventus back line with his pace and power.

The combination of neat passing, Sissoko on the counter and width saw us take the lead. A beautiful jink by Jan Vertonghen got the move started. Perfectly weighted passing through Harry Kane and Sissoko saw it continue. Patiently waiting to draw in the defender in before releasing Trippier down the flank in to the space put the right back in a great position to cross.

Sissoko releases Trippier in to space to cross during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Sissoko releases Trippier in to space to cross.

Trippier, in acres down the right, once more delivered a peach of a cross, planting the ball on to Kane’s forehead to open the scoring.

The goal was exquisitely crafted, highlighting Spurs’ improved sharpness compared to the International Champions Cup.

Moussa Sissoko’s role in it equally showed an enhanced player compared to last season’s broken confidence model. Sissoko’s passing and movement of the ball was much more assured. On the counter attack, he was an absolute pest, surging forward with speed and using his sizeable frame to hold defenders off.

Crafting the position for Trippier’s cross, Sissoko then tore forward from a Juventus corner and curled a shot off the post. Another one of his bursts saw him create an opening for a Harry Kane shot that was blocked for a corner. This was much more the Sissoko of Euro 2016.

Juventus errors

Spurs were playing well with width, but Juventus weren’t helping themselves by making uncharacteristic errors. These miscues came from both individual mistakes on the ball, but also from their team shape. Juventus lining up narrowly allowed Spurs to press from our wide coverage of the pitch and pinch in to constrict the Italians.

High full backs allow press coverage across the pitch during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

High full backs allow press coverage across the pitch.

The result was often a turnover or loose pass in Juventus’ defensive zone.

The worst error was a back pass under pressure by Miralem Pjanic that bounced back off Gianluigi Buffon straight to Harry Kane. The striker nicked the ball over the keeper, but Giorgio Chiellini cleared. Christian Eriksen then gathered and returned it with interest across the box, straight to Kane with the goal gaping. Somehow the striker with the crispest shot in the Premier League shanked his effort straight back in to Buffon’s grateful arms.

Eriksen switches to the right

You can tell Mauricio Pochettino trusts Kyle Walker-Peters. Firstly, he once more introduced KWP for the injured Kieran Trippier. Mauricio Pochettino then switched the inside-drifting Christian Eriksen to his flank.

Walker-Peters was then not only tasked with getting forward to deliver to the waiting Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko. He also had to defend the right flank with little cover from infield drifting Dane.

Eriksen’s switch to the right saw the use of our width in a different way. Starting centrally against a narrow Juventus saw him amongst the crowds in the first half. However, moving in from wide saw him untracked in the second.

Juventus, and more importantly Dele Alli, were given an early warning. Dele had the ball through the middle. However, rather than pick out the easier pass for Eriksen’s untracked run from wide, he tried to reverse the ball unsuccessfully to Harry Kane.

Dele Alli picks the wrong pass to Harry Kane during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Dele Alli picks the wrong pass to Harry Kane.

Three minutes later, and in a similar position, Dele wouldn’t make the same mistake. This time he picked out Eriksen’s run from wide perfectly, putting him through 1v1 against the keeper.

Dele finds Eriksen's run this time to make it Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Dele finds Eriksen’s run this time to make it Spurs 2-0 Juventus.

Eriksen coolly wrong-footed and jinked around Gigi Buffon to make it Spurs 2-0 Juventus.

Doubling the lead, Eriksen then turned provider to almost seal the game. Drifting from the right once more, he popped up in the centre to find Harry Kane’s run. A fortunate ricochet put Kane in on goal, but shooting under challenge from Chiellini, he rifled the ball back off the bar with Buffon soundly beaten.

Christian Eriksen's through ball finds Harry Kane's run during Spurs 2-0 Juventus at Wembley Stadium.

Christian Eriksen’s through ball finds Harry Kane’s run.

Juan Cuadrado down the right

Moving Eriksen to the right meant that Moussa Sissoko switched to the left. The move was a designed ploy by Pochettino to give the pedestrian Ben Davies some helpful speed to aid in his defending of Juan Cuadrado.

The Colombian was introduced at half time to get some pace on the flanks and he gave Davies problems. He was at the centre of several dangerous Juventus attacks, most notably Paulo Dybala’s curling shot, which forced a fingertip save from Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman’s fingertips were again the difference later on, as he flicked Cuadrado’s blistering drive up on to the crossbar.

Our goal was leading a rather charmed life as the crossbar came to our rescue once again. Moise Kean saw his shot ping off the top of it after Dybala had robbed the ball from Eric Dier.

The score could’ve and should’ve been closer, but it ended Spurs 2-0 Juventus with a clean sheet from our final friendly.

Spurs 2-0 Juventus overall

What a difference a week makes. The performance here was markedly sharper than what we saw during any of our International Champions Cup matches.

The second pleasing factor was Spurs playing well at Wembley. Are the players finally becoming accustomed to what has proved the trickiest of venues?

Mauricio Pochettino made good use of the increased playing area through his use of width. Kieran Trippier was a menace staying wide. Christian Eriksen became a nuisance when he started drifting in from wide.

Final score: Spurs 2-0 Juventus.
MOTM: Christian Eriksen.

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38 Responses to Spurs 2-0 Juventus: use of wide players key to victory

  1. Andy B 6th August 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    You really shouldn’t read too much into this game. It was a preseason friendly with Juventus who were not up to their normal speed.

    Sissoko facing a slow preseason Juventus team on a big pitch is an entirely different proposition to handling the frenetic speed of the premier league on smaller pitches, which up to now has been too much for him. Even playing the best teams in the championship would be too difficult for him.

    Sissoko like Paulinho goes missing in most games. Even Paulinho had his moments in a Spurs shirt, but generally was a waste of money. These two players were Spurs worst ever buys. To get your hopes up with Sissoko, because he decided to make an effort for this one game is wishful thinking.

    Georgiou and Walker Peters didn’t look anywhere near the level of the premiership either.

    Like the majority of fans, I wish we bought players early inn preseason so they could adjust to the new environment and Pochettino’s methods. Last season was the same story – we bought players in late, with Wanyama being the only one to make a difference.

    If Wanyama can play against Newcastle then Dier play right back if Trippier cannot play. If Wanyama cannot play then we are screwed. This highlights how poor the recruitment of players continues to be at Spurs.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th August 2017 at 7:07 pm #

      Sissoko did alright in this game. I still don’t think we should keep him, but with a lack of buyers or loanees, we may have to. Yesterday he did well and having criticised him enough on here, priase should be given too.

      Walker-Peters did well for me and his invovlvement in preseason can only be good for his development. Poch says he won’t start v Newcastle, but with little other cover, maybe he is just trying to shield him from the media speculation snd spotlight. The prices of players are bonko right now and there’s no guarantee anyone we bring in will be a great fit, so we have to develop talent and KWP is looking good so far.

  2. Sigurd Bjørhovde 6th August 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    More Sissoko negativity from the comments. Can you please lay off from the guy so that he can develop freely without stupid Spurs fans throwing shit after him constantly?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th August 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      He had a good game yesterday and looked a different player to last season. It is only one game and he may revert back to type, but credit where it’s due. We may have to keep him as at the minute, as he is our player and there isn’t anywhere to offload him unless Trabzonspor or China come through.

    • Mattspur 6th August 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Sissoko has had a year to develop freely and he is a joke of a player. It is embarassing watching him on a football pitch. The stupid Spurs fans are the ones who rate him and want to keep giving him chances, in case a miracle happens and he transforms from an average clumsy player to a great player. Wake up, it is never going to happen.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th August 2017 at 11:46 pm #

        Sissoko is the most polarising player we have had in a long while. Not sure how many fans actually rate him, but whilst he is our player, and if Poch picks him, then I’m behind him.

      • Sigurd Bjørhovde 7th August 2017 at 3:14 pm #

        With fans like that he is doomed to fail. And you will be responsible.

    • DavieS 10th August 2017 at 1:26 pm #

      Agree. Why can’t people just lay off him?

  3. YouShubes 6th August 2017 at 9:47 pm #

    I think for some fans that 5-0 win over Roma in 2008 will forever jaundice how we view the results of friendly win Lose or Draw.

    It certainly showed that we need pace in our attack. I don’t know if Sissoko is angling for a move but certainly given the depth of his competition in the French squad we could benefit from a motivated Sissoko much like we benefited from a fired up Ginola who played with fire in his belly in order to get into the World Cup squad of 1998 and then tell her something to prove when he didn’t get in.

    We have seen the ability of potch to convert players in to playing different positions we saw this with Eric dier and to a lesser extent the riddle that was Moussa dembele. Victor Moses played as part of a title winning team as a right wing back we have seen Valencia do the same thing for Man United. Poch what is the full back whisperer. There’s some of us are certain age who can remember the light paul warhurst and Chris Sutton being converted into attacking players could the converse be true for Sissoko. Liverpool got away with playing Milner at left back somehow.

    While the term water carrier is insulting essentially how different is it when dembele brings a ball forward using his strength and balance in the case of Sissoko he will just be using his incredible size and speed combination like a freight train we just have to make sure there is a gifted ball player he can feed the ball to close by when he’s making his way up the right flank.

    • ashley collie 6th August 2017 at 9:58 pm #

      Hey Shubes, one of the LA Spurs you met at Eli’s place (we were there last nite), Colin Heath is heading your way for a month and going to Cheatski game, Touch base with him on FB. Cheers mate!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th August 2017 at 11:52 pm #

      This is a big season for him being World Cup year, so we can expect an increased effort I’m sure. I don’t think Poch can convert him to a wing or full back, but he does offer something different. If we can’t offload him this summer then maybe a decent season will prompt a buyer next June.

  4. ashley collie 6th August 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    Great analysis, thanks, Mark. Ignore commenters who seem to have some agenda (“I hate him, he’s useless, I’m right, the rest of you are wrong”) that isn’t entirely supportive of our team’s efforts.IF MS stays, and IF Poch keeps him motivated, along with Janssen and Nkoudou and even Lamela, considering the minimal overall impact they collectively had last season, they’ll all be like fresh additions. Poch and staff watch them every day in training, we comment from our sofas, with many of us unable to trap even a bag of cement. I’ll trust what Poch and staff bring to the season this year. Personally, I’ll go with what I wanted last year, top-4 (which we achieved) and hopefully one Cup win for some glory for the team. When our legendary manager Keith Burkinshaw visited LA Spurs this summer, he said we didn’t need many additions, that Poch was the best manager in the PL, and the difference between us now and glory was a mental thing, the belief that we can do something. We’re sending that belief out from here. COYS, here’s to excellent season of your blogging, mate!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th August 2017 at 11:56 pm #

      Spot on Ashley. Poch is one of the few Spurs managers of the last 40 years that I trust his judgement on a player 100%. If he reckons there is enough there or a certain player warrants a starting place then I’m good with that. A trophy this season has to be the objective!

  5. Miles 6th August 2017 at 9:59 pm #

    These kind of foreign mercenary footballers like Adebayor, Paulinho and Sissoko have always divided and caused conflict amongst our fans. Why Levy hasn’t learnt from these mistakes is a strange one. I hope that Sissoko leaves our club and that we don’t recruit any more like him again.

  6. MurphyN 6th August 2017 at 10:14 pm #

    I’m with Sigurd. Sissoko was terrible at times and was rightly criticised. But Lamela was poor too early on. The same fans turned on him but he emerged. I remember how much stick Kane was getting when we was an occasional sub from the reserves: “he’ll never be good enough.. he just hasn’t got it”. If the manager picks Sissoko to do a job, get behind him on the day. Janssen too – compare his goals for Holland with what happens at Spurs. I’m sceptical about Sissoko too as it happens but he’s got the talent and the skills- so what’s missing is mental and motivation. Which can come.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th August 2017 at 5:43 pm #

      Valid points and some good reference points with Lamela and Janssen.

  7. YouShubes 7th August 2017 at 7:45 am #

    I think the problem with Lamela was he came with all those goals we saw him the Direct replacement for Bale which of course never was.

    Depending on who we get in our group I think the loss of Dele due to suspension and Sonny and Lamela not being fit I am worried we will sack off the Champions League once more and like Chelsea put all our eggs in the Premier League basket which for me isn’t the worst thing…unless we play a 352…

  8. Erik Zen 7th August 2017 at 8:48 am #

    Well that was encouraging. That was a full strength Juventus not Burton Albion. And it was Wembley.

    Whatever Sissoko’s price was and his stats have been so far, the guy must at least have a decent attitude because we know Poch doesn’t stand for primadonnas. I hope he stays because even if we shift him there’s no guarantee we are going to get a decent replacement, and especially not one that will hit the ground running in the PL. It’s not like having him around does us harm after all.

    Let’s hope all this Barca > Dele and Bayern > Dier stuff is bullshit and we can hang onto this wonderful team for another year.

    Thanks for the great piece Mark!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th August 2017 at 5:46 pm #

      I think its all media talk as the big moves have dried up a bit and they want some post Neymar stuff to get in to. Bayern and Barca would’ve been around earlier if they really wanted to make their moves.

      I don’t mind if Sissoko stays or goes, but his performance was decent. He needs a few more like that to show he’s turned a corner.

  9. Lennon 7th August 2017 at 9:00 am #

    I dont think the Sissoko hate has anything to do with football…look at the eternal love for Soldado, the most ineffective player we ever had.

    As for Adebayor…my mates from other clubs were envious of that Adebayor- Ericksen telepathy and goals under Sherwood.

    Theres something else going on here…

    • Andy B 7th August 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Soldado was a skilful footballer. – Sissoko has little skill.

      Soldado was a great player in Spain. – Sissoko was a terrible player at Newcastle.

      Soldado tried during games. – Sissoko vanishes in games.

      Soldado was a graceful player. – Sissoko is a clumsy player.

      Soldado had a great first touch. – Sissoko has a poor first touch.

      Soldado had football intelligence. – Sissoko does not have a football brain.

      Soldado loved our club and fans. – Sissoko doesn’t care about our club and fans.

  10. Lennon 7th August 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    As for Paulinho…Brazil have recalled him and there is even a silly rumour that Barcelona want him.

    So the Brazil and France national teams must be smoking stuff…..same goes for Spanish team who havent given much room for Soldado (whom i like also).

    • Dan 7th August 2017 at 5:49 pm #

      I have no idea why you are supporting these money grabbing mercenaries. Sissoko and Paulinho are average players, who flatter to deceive.

      The only one with talent was Adebayor, but he was the biggest mercenary of them all.

      When you consider how much money Sissoko and Paulinho have been paid by Spurs and how little they have contributed, it is shocking.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th August 2017 at 5:51 pm #

      Paulinho was just the wrong player for us, but it doesn’t make him a bad player. He was good for Corinthians and Brazil and his stock was high at the time. If he’d showed some more energy and application then who knows what might have happened, but he just didn’t seem to settle well in England or the Premier League.

  11. Erik Zen 7th August 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    I also never thought of Paulinho as a mercenary. I thought he always tried but it just never really worked. He was a bit like Jenas in that respect, a box-to-box midfielder who rarely seemed to actually do anything. He was and is brilliant for Brazil so it’s just about fitting into styles and teams.

    Don’t know why Sissoko is seen as particularly money-grabbing either. It was Newcastle we paid the 30m to, not him. And he left after they’d been relegated which is pretty understandable. Yes, some players hang about but you’re always going to expect others to move on to stay in the top flight. It was a bad decision to buy him, but seeing as we now have him – and don’t have other options – I think it’s understandable if we hang onto him for another year and see if he comes good. We can’t buy a replacement with PL exp who is obviously better, who wouldn’t break our wage structure.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th August 2017 at 11:44 am #

      I wouldn’t call Sissoko money-grabbing just yet. He doesn’t have a history of being some hired gun to the biggest bidder like Adebayor was. He showed a lack of motivation last season once he wasn’t getting in the team and his confidence was destroyed at times, which could be seen in his touch and geenral play, or lack of. With it being a World Cup year and the chance that he is dropped from the France squad I expect to see some more effort from him.

  12. Karl 7th August 2017 at 10:00 pm #

    I agree with all of this. I’d just add that there are lots of rumours that the 30 million wasn’t real money – Newcastle owed us cash and some of it was written off. Whatever the truth he has pace, which we don’t have much of, he can get past people in a bumbling way and I agree with someone above who said that the key is to get a skilful player near the end of his run. And why sell a squad player for peanuts when lack of squad is our big problem.
    The only thing I disagree with is your characterisation of JJ. There was a spell where he was a key part of our first good side since the early 90s – phenomenol energy for the whole 90 mins. I loved him.
    Good post Mark.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th August 2017 at 6:31 pm #

      Bumbling is a good word to describe Sissoko, although he can be very effective at it!

  13. Chas 8th August 2017 at 3:23 am #

    Off to a great start to the season, Mark!
    It’s brought on some interesting discussion and a few good points made, (plus a couple of wild assumptions from AndyB on Sissoko… those last two are very much imagined).
    I’m wondering if the extra room at Wembley, plus a second year with Spurs, will see a different Sissoko.
    Certainly, he was impressive against a below par Juve and it contradicted all my previous thoughts on him.
    Worth waiting for the January window for mine.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th August 2017 at 6:34 pm #

      We will see if he has turned a corner or reverts to type. I don’t really see a future for him at Spurs, but he could be a good squad player to keep around this season until we bring our young wingbacks and wingers like Edwards, KWP and Georgiou through.

  14. Toby4eva 8th August 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Nice work as usual Mark.

    As stated months ago, I am firmly in the anti-Sissoko camp. For no other reason that I think he is not a very good footballer. Well, not good enough for THFC. Just watch him off the ball. He has no peripheral appreciation of where his team mates are and what they are doing, so looks completely lost in the Pochettino system.

    If we can loan him and he can shine in a weaker league to shore up his WC18 hopes – everyone’s a winner baby. He is definitely not a PL player as his first touch is poor, he bumbles about the place and he plainly just struggles in an intense league, as the whole world saw last year.

    I am thinking back to my observation a few months back about Lamela maybe being in the Poch RWB frame?

    That’s if they ever find Coco….

    The lack of buying a backup for Trips and recent comments by the Gaffer that KWP is not yet up to snuff has got my mind in overdrive.

    Speaking of not buying anyone, i assume we haven’t moved for Ross “Coronation Street” Barkley because of his “groin operation” – clearly he wouldn’t pass a medical. He has 22 days in any case before the Chairman lodges our 15 million quid bid….

    Anyone got any strong thoughts on Max Meyer?

    I know you like him Mark, but I didn’t see much of him last year – what I did see wasnt making me sit up straight.

    Loved the Jenas banter.

    I don’t think I ever saw him pass the ball forward of sideways in all his time in a white shirt.

    Compare Dembele’s contributions for full context.

    Jenas described as a box to box midfielder is still comedy gold.

    He never got out of the bubble wrap.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th August 2017 at 6:42 pm #

      Some interesting and good points Toby4eva. As said above to Chas, I don’t really see a future for Sissoko at Spurs, but he could be a good squad player to keep around this season until we bring our young wingbacks and wingers like Edwards, KWP and Georgiou through. He also has the motivation of the World Cup, so it could be good to keep an enthused Sissoko around this season. A productive year may bring the buyers out, as there are no takers at the minute.

      Max Meyer apparently isn’t on the radar according to several media outets i’ve read in the last few days, which is disappointing. Maybe that means we are still in for Barkley?!

      Lamela may get some minutes as a wing back, but he is far from making the squad at the minute and I think the Son experiment at wing back may make Poch reluctant from trying it again. Although, Sissoko is in line for a wing back berth against Newcastle according to many, but i’d still like to see KWP given a go. I think he is ready and would do a very capable job for the first couple of games until Trippier returns.

  15. Matt 8th August 2017 at 9:35 pm #

    Re Sissoko, I know it’s only 1 game but regardless of their fitness, as someone said, this was Juve not Burton. And I think you nailed it, as ever Mark, he brings real pace and we have no one other than Rose with pace. Imagine when we’re trying to play over the Liverpool press; you’d quite fancy pinging it to Sissoko to run onto in Wembley s wide open spaces. I would keep him even if we sign Barkley as he’s entirely different. Not perfect I know, but he can cause opponents problems.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th August 2017 at 12:54 pm #

      This is it with Sissoko. He provides something we don’t currently have as he is extremely strong, quick and powerful plus he can shrug others off the ball with his body size and strength. He could be quite a unique weapon if he could somehow get it all togther. It’s just a shame that he is so inconsistent and he is a too much of a confidence player.

  16. Lennon 9th August 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    We will solve the Sissoko conundrum if we get to understand why France want him. France can put out 3 quality players in every position. Anthony Martial cant even get in.

    Once again …France, Brazil and Spain have opposite views to many on this forum re: Sissoko, Paulinho and Soldado.

    These are succesful footballing nations…so il take their opinion anyday rather than And B ‘s and co.

    (Can i borrow this attitudometer that u use to beat down these guys…i want to check for myself ……kkk)

    • Stevespur 10th August 2017 at 6:45 pm #

      Your line of thinking is nonsense.

      Gilberto played for the Brazilian national team 35 teams. He was also useless at Spurs, just like Paulinho and Sissoko have been.

      Following your line of thought, you would probably pick Gilberto as our best ever left back.

      You obviously have little understanding of football.

      • Stevespur 10th August 2017 at 6:46 pm #

        I meant 35 times.