Mauricio Pochettino moved to a diamond formation and all the points of it combined to score the only goal as it finished Tottenham 1-0 Inter at Wembley Stadium.
Huffing and puffing to a break a determined Inter Milan team down, Mauricio Pochettino once more went to the diamond formation. All four points of it combined to score the only goal of the match as it ended Tottenham 1-0 Inter in Champions League Group B.
Tottenham attack the right back
Beginning the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Spurs identified Inter right back Danilo D’Ambrosio as a potential weak point. Tottenham tried to get the ball in-behind him as a route to goal throughout the opening stages.
Inside of seven minutes, Harry Kane produced a surging run at the full back, which ended with him stinging the palms of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic at his near post. Lucas Moura had also been upended in the box after running past the full back. Unbelievably, Moura’s strong claims for a penalty were waived away.
Spurs continued to try and get in here throughout the first half. Ben Davies made several surging runs like this to get in to good positions. Unfortunately, Dele Alli over hit the pass on the most open occasion.
Perhaps the best chance of the half arrived when Mousa Sissoko broke forward and hurtled in to the space behind Inter left back, Kwadwo Asamoah. Sissoko’s pull back arrived at the feet of Lucas Moura, who had jetted in to the space left by D’Ambrosio. However, Moura could only fire in to the grateful arms of Samir Handanovic.
Despite targeting the space around right back Danilo D’Ambrosio, Harry Winks came the closest with an effort from range. Inter’s defence were forced deep by Spurs sheer weight of numbers in the box. Space was thus created on top of the box for Winks to arrive unmarked and thump a dipping effort off the crossbar.
Spurs diamond move
Inter had been stubborn to break down. For the second half, Mauricio Pochettino sent Spurs out in a diamond formation. Harry Winks played at the base. Mousa Sissoko at the right point, Dele Alli at the left point and Erik Lamela at the top. Lucas Moura was therefore moved up front with Harry Kane to form a strike pairing.
Initially the diamond faltered. Inter were given space in the wide areas and Ivan Perisic prospered. Perisic stuck in two dangerous crosses and also forced a good save from Hugo Lloris at his near post.
Seeing Spurs struggle, Pochettino decided to make personnel changes. The more direct running of Son Heung-Min replaced the mazy dribbling of Lucas Moura. Christian Eriksen then came on for Erik Lamela.
The Eriksen change was key. Dele Alli was moved to the number ten role and Eriksen to the left point.
From the Left point Eriksen could influence the game as a result of being closer to Harry Winks. However, it was the shifts of Eriksen and Dele that made the difference.
Diamond points win the game
The points of the diamond were responsible for us winning the game. Harry Winks had the ball at the base. Moussa Sissoko then made a surging run down the right side. Dele Alli was calm and composed in his layoff and Christian Eriksen arrived to fire the ball in to the net. A fine move that saw the score suddenly shift to Tottenham 1-0 Inter.
The passage of play saw a number of key actions. Moussa Sissoko’s surging run smashed past Marcelo Brozovic and drew the Inter centre backs towards him. The knock on effect was that Inter right back Danilo D’Ambrosio was pulled towards Dele Alli to stop him. As a result, Christian Eriksen was left free to arrive unmarked and make the score Tottenham 1-0 Inter.
Whether intentional or not, the space around Inter’s right back, Danilo D’Ambrosio, had finally been exposed. Christian Eriksen arrived in it to profit.
Inter fight back
Down a goal and having to chase the game, Inter coach Luciano Spalletti made changes. Miranda and Keita Balde were sent on as the Italians sought a goal.
In response, Mauricio Pochettino sacrificed the diamond to return to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Eric Dier was introduced for Harry Winks as Pochettino sought more defensive steel.
Dier’s introduction was a good one. He dealt well with dangerous Inter set pieces. However, it was Toby Alderweireld who would preserve the clean sheet. Another dangerous Inter corner was partially cleared. Kwadwo Asamoah returned the loose ball with interest. As it fizzed towards the net, Alderweireld got a vital block, which saved a certain goal, keeping the score at Tottenham 1-0 Inter.
The relief at the final whistle was palpable. A vital three points in Champions League Group B. Spurs still have a fighting chance of going through.
Tottenham 1-0 Inter overall
Spurs really struggled to increase the tempo in this match, which played in to Inter’s hands.
Mauricio Pochettino’s introduction of a diamond formation along with more direct running solved that with a moment of pace and power. Moussa Sissoko’s destructive run started the dismantling of the Inter defence. Dele Alli’s guile and awareness, along with the rapidly arriving Christian Eriksen, finished it.
Final score: Tottenham 1-0 Inter.
MOTM: Dele Alli.