Another European clash with the Nerazzurri and again we scored three times. They all arrived from crosses, with two through the air and one cut back across the box, as it finished Spurs 3 Inter 0 in our Europa League last 16 1st leg tie.
Inter didn’t play particularly well, but they weren’t allowed to by a Spurs side that went out after them from the get-go.
Inter setup and tactics
Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni was very much hamstrung by injuries to his defence going in to the game and fielded Juan Jesus at left back as he opted for a 4-2-3-1. Regular left back Alvaro Pereira was shunted forward in to a more advanced role in the first half. With Juan coming off at half time, Pereira reverted to his usual position after the interval.
Inter set up to defend deep and with Antonio Cassano up front on his own, only pressuring the first pass in to midfield. This left William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen pretty much free to dictate the play from the back, which instigated numerous Tottenham attacks.
With the ball, Inter were trying to move it quickly wide, but ran into a wall of Spurs defenders. Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker were doing a good job on Alvaro Pereira down the right, whilst on the left, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Benni controlled Ricardo Alvarez. In the centre, Scott Parker and Moussa Dembele were doing an excellent job pressing and winning the ball back early. This created chances from quick transitions in the play, and most notably our second goal.
As a result, Inter really struggled to create other than via two through balls that set up one-on-ones with Brad Friedel for Ricardo Alvarez and Rodrigo Polacio.
As looked at in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Inter, Antonio Cassano likes to drop off and tries to play through balls. He tried to pull the strings here, finding Alvaro Periera who was making surging runs down the left flank. But his most telling pass was to put Alvarez through just before half time. The Argentinean dragged his shot wide in Inter’s only real moment of danger.
After the interval and the switch to remove Juan Jesus, Esteban Cambiasso moved further forward. He found Polacio with a similar through ball from a quickly taken free kick that caught Spurs napping. The substitute could only fire straight at Brad Friedel who kicked his shot away.
Spurs set up and tactics
Spurs lined up in a 4-3-3 with Gareth Bale playing centrally in a number ten role once more. On the flanks Aaron Lennon was playing high up, looking to gain possession from passes played through the defence. On the other side, Gylfi Sigurdsson was operating shallower and looking to come inside.
The tone was set from the first minute when Walker and Lennon combined with a neat one-two that got the diminutive winger in behind full back Juan Jesus. The stand-in Inter left back was picked on by this combination for much of the half, including for our second goal.
Without the ball we pressed hard starting from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale at the front and the high tempo allowed us to jump in to an early lead.
Spurs quick start
I looked in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Inter at how the Nerazzurri have conceded goals early in matches this season and how a quick start was necessary. We got it, as Gareth Bale opened the scoring after just 6 minutes; then we were two up after 18.
I also looked at how AC Milan had created a tonne of chances by crossing from wide areas and Catania had gone through the channels between the Inter centre and full backs. We combined the best of both strategies to score three times here.
Our first arrived by way of a cross from wide, as Gylfi Sigurdsson put in a beautifully curled ball on to the head of a late arriving Gareth Bale. The Welshman had got himself matched up on the smaller Esteban Cambiasso and used his height advantage to nod home. This wouldn’t be the first time Cambiasso was beaten to a cross to concede either.
The second was created through the channel between full back and centre back, but finished after a low-driven cross.
Gareth Bale pressured the ball and Moussa Dembele was first to the deflection. Stand-in left back Juan Jesus was dragged out towards the Belgian, who slipped the ball in down the channel to a streaking Aaron Lennon.
The diminutive winger then cut the ball back for Jermain Defoe to shoot, but as his shot was parried, Gylfi Sigurdsson was first to the rebound.
After a good performance against Arsenal at the weekend, Gylfi Sigurdsson was once again playing well here.
The Icelandic international created the first and scored the second by moving inside from the left.
He wasn’t trying to get in behind the full back like Aaron Lennon was on the other side, but looking to cross from deeper. Sigurdsson was receiving the ball midway inside the Inter half, then either recycling play backwards or coming inside on to his favoured right foot to whip the ball in the box.
Only 12 of his 46 passes were forwards, with the other 34 square or backwards, highlighting the play of a typical right footer working on the left. However, out of Spurs 18 attempted crosses in the match, 7 of these came from the Icelander.
Sigurdsson’s delivery wasn’t his only contribution, as he also did a good job helping out Benoit Assou-Ekotto on Ricardo Alvarez. The Icelander was successful in making four tackles and also two interceptions.
Spurs add a third
After scoring twice from two different types of ball in to the box, the third also arrived by way of a cross, but this time from a corner.
Moments after just failing to get on to the end of a Gareth Bale free kick to the far post, Jan Vertonghen made no mistake with a header from a corner. After losing out to Gareth Bale in the first half, Esteban Cambiasso was left in Vertonghen’s wake this time and the game was all but over for Inter.
Spurs 3 Inter 0 conclusions
Inter weren’t great, but Spurs didn’t allow them to be by playing an up-tempo game fuelled by a loud White Hart Lane crowd.
The Italians looked off balance from their team selection and Spurs pounced on this from the off, managing to put them on the back foot with two quick goals. Gareth Bale believed that the fast start was key.
“I thought we set the tempo from the first whistle and made it difficult for them. It was a great performance and a worthy result.”
In the manner we scored our goals, this was another exceptional team performance that preyed on an opponent’s weakness and exploited it to the full.
Final Score: Spurs 3 Inter 0.