Marco Tumminello scores to make it Spurs 2-3 Roma in the International Champions Cup match.

Spurs 2-3 Roma: struggles to break a solid shape

Struggling to break the Italian team’s shape saw our friendly end Spurs 2-3 Roma in the International Champions Cup at the Red Bull Arena.

Top Italian teams are always good opponents in preseason as they are sticklers for retaining team shape. Spurs struggled to contend with the Roma midfield that was well marshalled by the excellent Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan. After the pair departed, four goals went in during a furious finish that saw a final score of Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Spurs struggle against Roma shape

Two factors were at work during the first half. Firstly, playing a back three, Spurs attempted to overload central midfield. Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, Josh Onomah and Dele Alli were all stationed centrally in Mauricio Pochettino’s 3-4-2-1.

Secondly, Roma’s 4-3-3 was set up to stifle and rapidly counter attack. The Italians weren’t interested in pressing our centre backs. They would condense the middle third to shorten the playing area for our quartet. Up against our four, Roma deployed a tight-knit trio of De Rossi, Nainggolan and Gerson.

De Rossi, Nainggolan and Gerson kept their shape during Spurs 2-3 Roma in the International Champions Cup match at the Red Bull Arena.

De Rossi, Nainggolan and Gerson kept their shape.

Even when the trio became stretched, their back four aided them. The Roma defence pushed up closely behind to snuff out any space.

Roma central trio stretched sees back four push up during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Roma central trio stretched sees back four push up.

The issue for Spurs was that our central quartet was strong and powerful, but lacked any kind of creative passing. As a result, limited time on the ball from Roma’s play saw our attacks frequently break down. Therefore, Harry Kane became increasingly isolated.

Roma counter attacks

Condensing the middle third, Roma sought to launch quick counter attacks. Once they regained the ball, the Italians were frequently looking for a pass in-behind our high defensive line.

Roma had limited speed on the field, but their front three used well-timed runs to beat our offside trap. Edin Dzeko had a great chance but delayed his shot, allowing Jan Vertonghen to recover after a neat pass from Bruno Peres.

Bruno Peres finds Edin Dzeko's run in-behind during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Bruno Peres finds Edin Dzeko’s run in-behind.

Roma followed this chance by recycling the ball to win a rather dubious penalty. Aleksander Kolorov looked for Radja Nainggolan with a shorter through ball this time as he looked to run in-behind.

Kolorov passes to Nainggolan's run in-behind during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Kolorov passes to Nainggolan’s run in-behind.

Nainggolan’s cross then flicked off Cameron Carter-Vickers’ arm. Referee Hilario Grajeda played on for some ten seconds before consulting the fourth official. Grajeda then awarded a spot kick. Diego Perotti calmly and rather casually converted.

Not content with taking the lead, Roma’s counter attacks continued to pose problems. Five minutes later and they almost added a second. Radja Nainggolan released Gregoire Defrel with a sumptuous through ball with the outside of his boot. However, the Frenchman couldn’t convert.

Nainggola sets Defrel in-behind during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Nainggola sets Defrel in-behind.

Tottenham attack the left back

Spurs are no strangers to Aleksander Kolorov. We know all about his good attacking play, but equally that he is a weak link defensively. Once we learned that the central area of the pitch was a congested minefield and that play had to go quickly wide, we picked on the left back.

Our best three chances of the first half arrived from getting at and beyond Kolorov. Josh Onomah fired a pass out to Kieran Trippier that took Kolorov out of the game.

Trippier gets away from Kolorov to receive Onomah's pass during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Trippier gets away from Kolorov to receive Onomah’s pass.

Trippier’s dangerous cross was met by Harry Kane and Federico Fazio, pinging off the former Spurs defender for a corner. From the set piece, Mousa Dembele snuck in-behind Kolorov and rattled the cross bar with his shot. Later in the half, Trippier’s ball over the top released Harry Kane to run in-behind and fire a wickedly late-swerving shot that keeper Alisson Becker just got down to.

Spurs change shape

Mauricio Pochettino made half–time changes to both personnel and formation. Off went two of the strong central quartet to be replaced by more creative guile and passing. Thus Dier and Onomah were substituted for Christian Eriksen and Harry Winks.

Recognising the need for speed on the flanks, exciting young talent Anthony Georgiou was also brought on. Later, Pochettino would introduce Georges-Kevin Nkoudou as well for this same reason.

Pochettino changed formation too. The 3-4-2-1 was switched to a 4-2-3-1 as Spurs sought to move the ball in to wide areas much quicker through the passing of Winks and Eriksen.

Poor officiating

Referee Hilario Grajeda looked out of his depth officiating at this standard. Having continued play and then awarded a rather dubious penalty in the first half, he completely missed a clear foul on Harry Kane in the box by Federico Fazio.

Federico Fazio fouls Harry Kane during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Federico Fazio fouls Harry Kane.

The decision came at a crucial point in the game, where an equalising goal would’ve made a huge difference.

De Rossi and Nainggolan depart

Tottenham chances had been at a premium due to the play of Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan in Roma’s midfield. The pair was excellent in shutting the central zone off. The duo departing the game saw space open up and four goals in the final thirty minutes.

Tottenham attack the flanks

Roma had been blocking off the centre of the pitch. With Anthony Georgiou in the game, Spurs had a real outlet down the left. The youngster’s quick feet and dribbling were a problem for Roma. He was able to get away from his marker and deliver several dangerous crosses and get two good shots away.

Recognising the wings to be our route back in to the game, Mauricio Pochettino introduced Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. Two goals would be the result, one from each flank.

Christian Eriksen created the first as he got in-behind right back Bruno Peres.

Eriksen gets in to the space behind RB Peres during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Eriksen gets in to the space behind RB Peres.

Vincent Janssen shot Eriksen’s cutback across the goal. The ball rebounded back off the post, falling at the feet of Harry Winks to stab home at the second attempt.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was then found down the left by Toby Alderweireld’s raking pass directly to him. Nkoudou’s cross was touched home by Vincent Janssen to make it Spurs 2-2 Roma. It appeared as if a draw had somehow been snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Nkoudou gets past the left back to cross for Janssen to score during Spurs 2-3 Roma.

Nkoudou gets past the left back to cross for Janssen to score.

Sloppy carbon copy goals

In-between our double strikes from the flanks, Roma scored two carbon copy goals from our sloppy errors.

The first put the Italians 2-0 up. Toby Alderweireld’s poor pass turned possession over and Roma could launch another one of their counter attacks. Kevin Strootman was found running up the line to get beyond Alderweireld and could cross towards Marco Tumminello.

The recovering Kevin Wimmer cut out Strootman’s cross. However, going for the ball with his weaker right foot saw Wimmer not get the connection he needed. The ball agonisingly dropped in front of goal for Cengiz Under to run on to and sweep in to the net.

Having seemingly grabbed a draw at 2-2 we then switched off to concede a carbon copy goal.

Straight form the kick off, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Kieran Trippier allowed Strootman to break free down the line and cross towards Tumminello once more. This time his ball across the box wouldn’t be stopped. Tumminello could divert it home from close range and Roma had frustratingly nicked the victory.

Seconds later and the final whistle blew to end the game at Spurs 2-3 Roma for our first North American International Champions Cup defeat this summer.

Spurs 2-3 Roma overall

Spurs figured out this game to amazingly get back to 2-2. However, another goal conceded straight after scoring highlighted what is becoming an increasingly annoying habit. It is better that this happens in preseason, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Daniel Levy made a big statement about the club’s dedication to developing youth prior to the match. Bringing through our exciting crop of youngsters should be paramount to the club competing in this climate of unsustainable super-spending.

We have a number of hot prospects and Anthony Georgiou was the latest to stake his claim here. However, once more this match showed that there is a Christian Eriksen sized hole when the Dane is not playing. This is not new news and a number of names have been linked over the past twelve months. It doesn’t have to be big money, but it is where Spurs need to scour the market, as it will be the wisest funds spent this summer.
Final score: Spurs 2-3 Roma.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , , ,

23 Responses to Spurs 2-3 Roma: struggles to break a solid shape

  1. Andy B 26th July 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    I agree that Spurs need back up for Erickson. In fact I think we need even more than that.

    Spurs lack that special gifted player that can do something unpredictable, creative and different, to win a game.

    These players like Zola and Di Canio are very rare and Spurs were lucky to have Hoddle, Gascoigne, Waddle, Ginola, Hazard and Berbatov in the past.

    The last naturally gifted player that we had was Adel Taarabt, but unfortunately he didn’t develop into a team player and wasted his undoubted raw talent.

    If only we could get that special player again.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 10:43 pm #

      It would be fantastic to have any one of those players again. To buy an equivalent this summer is going to cost serious money. I think it’s a case of if we don’t have a prospect coming through to be Eriksen’s deputy then we should be looking to sign a young player that fits with our budget. Someone that we can mould in to the Tottenham way. Max Meyer would be ideal for me.

  2. Matt 26th July 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    Agree with you both. With 4 competitions we’ll need to rotate and we need the injury cover. Barkley appears the best bet to me. He’s different to Christian, and not as effective yet but he gives something different and is dangerous further up the pitch.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 10:46 pm #

      I have a feeling that Poch could take a stagnating Barkley and improve him to another level. The issue at the minute is the price, which seems astronomical for a player with 1 year left on his current deal.

  3. jimmy hero 26th July 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    we need wingers who can dribble, midfielders who can dribble, and a striker who can dribble, and all should be goal hungry..
    then only, the player can change or win a game.

    presently, the striker depends wholly on providers..
    the team depends only on a provider (erikssen). if he has an off-day, or is injured, or is rotated, then black out..
    moreover, the provider, is not a perfect dribbler

    on the other hand, we don’t have real wingers, who can beat their man easily and cross accurately, or can dribble inside the pitch, and shoot accurately, and thus be more dangerous. look at messi as an example (ok we are taking too high an example, but still…). is he a midfielder, a winger or a striker?
    he doesn’t have a fixed position, and doesn’t need to wait for a provider. he can take the ball anywhere on the pitch, dribble on the wing, in the middle of the pitch, in the box and score.
    if we cant get a fraction of a messi, then we will definitely get a mess…

    finally, we have 2 players who, naturally, can run at defenders and open defences on their own (the fractional messi). they are son and sisso. if these 2 players could take care of their game, be more efficient, then they are the ones who can on their own change or win a match..
    there is only the “if” in between…!!!

  4. robin 26th July 2017 at 10:28 pm #


    we dont play with wingers for reason – w use full backs instead. we do need players who can beat man in the top third of the pitch- somewhat disappointing that Dembele just hasnt developed in that direction.

    We need a backup for eriksen really badly, though having winks on the field does help.

    no sign that NKoudou is going to come good, and janssen still looks very ponderous

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 26th July 2017 at 11:52 pm #

      The width does come from our full backs. Although the Sissoko signing was an attempt to address the problem of having a player that could go past people in the final third. Interestingly Poch gave Anthony Georgiou a run out when we needed this type of player to create width against Roma’s compact central midfield. I was certainly impressed with him and he looks to have a bright future.

      I’m more hopeful Janssen will come good than GKN. I see him as a Rickie Lambert-esque player that Poch could use in a similar way to benefit from his hold up play and then get in the box to net 10-15 a season. This is a massive make or break season for him. If he plays similar to last year he’ll be gone next summer!

  5. Robin 27th July 2017 at 12:33 am #

    agree on both GKN and Janssen, although he looked VERY ponderous.

    what obth game sshowed is that e are totally without ideas when Eriksen is off the pitch (or off form). Winks helped a lot – he moves the ball much quicker than all the other CMs, and I think he will be first choice over Dembele by Xmas.

    But we still need a serious alternative. Maybe Barkley at a reasonable pric e-I’ve not seen us linked to anyone else.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2017 at 11:17 am #

      I think Levy may be playing a waiting game with Barkley as his price is ridiculous at the minute. Poch uses Eriksen rather like he did with Adama Lallana at Southampton so we do need a similar player that can operate across the advanced midfield trio. Barkley would fit the bill as he can play as a 10 or from the left or right. Schalke’s Max Meyer is also another decent option and is also near the end of his contract and so should be available at a decent price. Plus we sent them Nabil Bentaleb, which could be a deal sweetner.

  6. ashley collie 27th July 2017 at 2:57 am #

    Anyone ever heard of this fellow Lamela getting in as a playmaker? Or, this other fellow Alli doing it, with Sonny or Janssen replacing him upfront with Harry. Or, Winksy being moved up into that playmaking role? Just saying…

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2017 at 11:20 am #

      Hi Ashley, hope you are well mate. I kind of get it with Lamela, but he never looks comfortbale with his back to goal for me. He always seems to prefer running with the ball towards goal and then passing, which works well from wide, but I think he’ll struggle in the centre, especially amongst congestion. He’s also not really that hub give-and-go passer that Eriksen is. Winksy is more of that type of player, but he looks more comfortable in a deeper role. I’d like to see Poch experiment with him further forward in a couple of friendlies just to see if he can do it.

  7. Erik Zen 27th July 2017 at 7:55 am #

    Agree with Ashley there… Dele is a magic player and could play no.10. And then, Harry can drop back with Janssen up front. He does have no.10 on his shirt after all. Doubt we are going to spunk all that cash on Barkley, and whenever we are linked to another player, one of our rivals waddles in with a suitcase of money.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2017 at 11:24 am #

      Dele is a second striker number ten and not that ball-moving passing hub that Eriksen is. Yesterday’s game against Roma highlighted that once more as Dele was out of the game without Eriksen on the pitch to constantly feed him the ball in the attacking positions that he likes. Poch has had Lallana and now Eriksen to be this type of player in his team and we need someone from a similar mould.

    • Simon E 27th July 2017 at 11:40 pm #

      It appears that you have been caught up in all the over hyping of Dele Alli.

      He has done very well to get where he has, but he is not a magical player.

      So many players eligible to play for England have been over hyped. Football fans can imagine players to be something that they are not.

      David Beckham was the classic example of a decent player being elevated to something far greater than he was.

      • Erik Zen 28th July 2017 at 5:46 am #

        It’s not because he’s English, rather because he scored 23 goals and got 8 assists at 21 years old. He might not be able to replace the role that Eriksen fulfils but he did have frequent moments of brilliance.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th July 2017 at 4:32 pm #

        Dele is an awesome player Simon E and at 21 is only going to get better and better. 20 Premier League goals this season is a real possibility. He is a goalscoring number ten whereas Erisken is a passing player. If you think Dele is overhyped then you clearly aren’t a Spurs fan.

        • Simon E 28th July 2017 at 7:16 pm #

          I said that he is not a magical player. He does not have the skills and magic of Ginola. He is more of a David Platt, Frank Lampard sort of player. He knows where to run on the pitch and is talented. I already said that he has done very well.

          I am a big Spurs fan, but I do not like it when players are over hyped. Just look at Man Utd. How many players were hyped in the media to be the new George Best – Norman Whiteside, Lee Sharpe. I mean what a joke to place these players at the same level as George Best.

          Dele Alli is very good, but i don’t believe he will ever be a magical player, because he isn’t that type. He cannot dribble particularly well and often loses the ball. He was appalling for the first 10 games of the season, which people have forgotten. His strength is running across the channels, getting in the right positions, an instinct for goal scoring and his confident attitude.

          • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th July 2017 at 12:19 am #

            Magic comes in many forms and while Dele doesn’t slalom past defenders like a Ginola or Hoddle, his movement in the box, touch and finishing are equally as spellbinding to watch. To those who don’t see this, then, as his song goes, “I just don’t think you understand.”

            • Simon E 29th July 2017 at 10:23 am #

              I agree that Dele has that ability and have already stated that. I think we just have different opinions on what constitutes a magical player.

              I really don’t like the nonsense when players are over hyped and compared to greats. Some pundits have compared Dele Alli to Zidane, which is ridiculous in my opinion.

              Dembele is the nearest we have to a special player. He is gifted in his dribbling ability, but just lacks that cutting edge of creativity and goal scoring.

              Our best player in my opinion is Toby Alderweireld.

  8. Fredi Kanoute 27th July 2017 at 10:50 am #

    Fantastic read. We haven’t seen Lamela in the
    3-4-2-1 yet. Wonder if he might be an alternative? What’s his assist rate compared to Eriksen’s?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 27th July 2017 at 11:34 am #

      Lamela barely played last season, but if you go back to 2015-16 season where he made 34 Premier League appeareances and Eriksen 35, then Eriksen was making 3.3 key passes per game and Lamela 2.1 per game.

  9. shubes 28th July 2017 at 8:44 am #

    That non penalty was vintage fazio and it had me laughing for lot. For me in the first half de Rossi and radja won the midfield battle against Mousa and onomah.

    While Josh onomah was clearly stronger than his peers at the U-20 World Cup against grown men he was shown to lack the strength required. For him to get game time he needs to be in a three with a wall like Victor and a hub in Harry winks

    Against a soft team like the goons strength works but it needs that passing hub.

    That Georgiou kid really surprised me…if he can develop that burst into something quicker and sustain it we might a prospect…I liked how he was willing to cross with both feet and attack the defender. But as we saw with Oakley Boothe kids can be good one game quiet the next. It is all part of the learning curve.

    Nashville will be interesting as so many Yids will have been on the piss all day and all night for a good few days! Still think the jury is out on the kids. Even Winks took a couple of years to get in the side and that was under much less scrutiny

    Much as I would like to see us approach Mayer and maybe Goretzka clearly Barkley will be our August 31st signing unless Everton get their head out of their arse….will take him a while to get match fit and learn the nuances of the Poch press

    Yes a poor clearance by Wimmer but why was Under allowed to ghost in so easily? Should have been more switched on for what was their winner and credit to Roma for seeking a winner.

    Credit to Poch to giving Jannssen and GKN a chance by taking off his usual aces in the hole. I know Poch does like his FB’s to provide the width but I think given kane and dele’s ability in the box 4 4 1 1 is something he should consider.

    Overall the result I am not too bothered about it being a FRIENDLY.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th July 2017 at 4:40 pm #

      De Rossi and Nainggolan were so impressive in their 60 minutes on the pitch. Spurs had the wrong midfield set up against them, which if we drew them in the Champions League then Poch wouldn’t have gone with the personnel he did.

      Georgiou really impressed me. I’ve not seen much of him but I definitely want to see more as he is the type of player that would be very useful. His skillset would also save spanking £25 million+ on the winger Poch is supposed to crave.

      Meyer, Goretzka or Barkley i’d take any of them, but Meyer would be my top choice. Barkley is the most PL ready of them and I have a feeling Poch could do for his game what he did for Adam Lallana.