Christian Eriksen scores the winning goal as it ends Tottenham 1-0 Inter in Champions League Group B.

Tottenham 1-0 Inter: diamond shift gets the points

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.

Ben Davies runs in-behind Danilo D'Ambrosio during Tottenham 1-0 Inter.

Ben Davies runs in-behind Danilo D’Ambrosio.

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.

Pochettino moved to a midfield diamond in the second half during Tottenham 1-0 Inter Milan.

Pochettino moved to a midfield diamond in the second half.

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.

Eriksen on the left and Dele at the top of the diamond formation during Tottenham 1-0 Inter Milan.

Eriksen on the left and Dele at the top of the diamond.

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.

Winks, Sissoko, Dele and Eriksen score the goal from the points of the diamond to make it Tottenham 1-0 Inter Milan.

Winks, Sissoko, Dele and Eriksen score the goal from the points of the diamond.

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.



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19 Responses to Tottenham 1-0 Inter: diamond shift gets the points

  1. Andy B 29th November 2018 at 2:36 pm #

    As Inter seemed to play for the draw, it made it a boring game.

    This game highlighted what I have been thinking and saying for weeks – Lamela and Moura are best used as impact subs. They make the biggest impact when they come off the bench. Particularly in the case of Lucas Moura, who is often quiet, when he starts matches.

    It also highlighted once again, the need for a backup player for Eriksen. When he is not playing, there is a real lack of creativity.

    Winks, Sissoko, Dier and Dembele are not creative midfield players.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th November 2018 at 5:27 pm #

      Whilst I agree that Lamela and Moura are probably better from the bench, with the number of games we have coming up, we really need to use the whole squad. We were complaining about player burnout due to the World Cup, so we have to be smarter with the distribution of minutes. Poch has been making these comments too and was ssaying the same about having fresh players for Barcelona.

      Eriksen is the one player we don’t really have a plan B for and we cannot afford to be without him. He is carrying this chronic stomach injury where he can’t be playing 90 minutes every third day, which is probably why he was on the bench so he could start vs Arsenal. So yes we do need to get a backup in or workout a way to play without him as neither issue has been solved.

  2. aidy G 29th November 2018 at 3:29 pm #

    Yes we would all love to see a back up for Eriksen. But (a) who is available? and (b) who is affordable?

    Grealish’s name has come up but there appears to be some difficulty prising him away from Villa after he signed a long term contract there recently.
    Maddison might have been ideal but surely Leicester won’t sell him – they’d be crazy to do so.

    I like Brooks at Bournemouth – he’s young energetic and has been turning in great performances regularly. But would he be a good fit at Spurs?

    • YouShubes 29th November 2018 at 4:29 pm #

      Grealish would be good fit but an expensive one, given he as signed a new contract… He has spent 2 years outside of the EPL… how much longer will he want to so do… Villa are 3 points off the play off…The Championships is like snakes and ladders at times….Villa were languishing sacked Bruce, now they are 3 point from the playoffs they could either be top by New Year’s are at the foot of the table…if they don’t go up this year he will HAVE to move

      We have too many non home grown players…even if Mousa and Vorm leave in Jan, Foyth steps in… opens up one spot?

      • Erik Zen 29th November 2018 at 4:55 pm #

        I’m just praying that the sparing use of Eriksen is really to do with this abdomen and not with the lack of contract progress. I will be extremely upset if we lose him.

        In the end it’s understandable that we don’t have backup for one of the best creative midfielders in the world. How many players are there at his level?

        Thanks for the write-up Mark. Onward to the Arse the stress/fun never stops!

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th November 2018 at 5:35 pm #

          I believe it is, Erik Zen. Poch is trying to manage his minutes as having Eriksen for every other match is better than no Eriksen at all.

          In terms of solving the Eriksen conundrum, I’d still like to see Winks played further forward. I think he has potential to play where Eriksen does and could make a decent job of it.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th November 2018 at 5:31 pm #

      Indeed, Aidy G. Answers to both your questions are difficult ones! Big fan of Brooks as well, but can’t see Bournemouth selling at this point. I like his style, but i’m not sure if he really would be an Eriksen replacement. He is creative and can pick a pass, but is not that hub for the ball that Eriksen is. I would still take him though. Very difficult problem to solve!

  3. Mark from Virginia 29th November 2018 at 5:08 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the write up. My heart was in my throat watching this one – especially that last Inter corner! The Spurs defense has been getting more solid in recent weeks. The individual errors are fewer and they are doing a better job containing rather then trying to win the ball – I really like this development, it’s reminiscent of the strong Spurs defense of a couple seasons ago.

    The most profound occurrence though was the introduction of Dier after taking the lead. My immediate thought after scoring was to bring Dier on for Winks and a couple of minutes later my wish was fulfilled. I think this is a good indication of improvement in Poch’s game management. These are the exact type of situations that got us trouble in the past – especially with the Italian teams, and the bringing Dier on helped shut the game down.
    Let’s hope this form continues against the scum!
    Cheers,
    Mark

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th November 2018 at 5:37 pm #

      Hi Mark. Yes it was good reactive management to bring Dier on and change the shape. We had what we needed and chasing a second goal would’ve been naive at that point. Dier added extra height for set pieces too, so a smart decision from Poch.

  4. Zaph Mann 29th November 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    Kane looked like he was back to adding that facet of his game where he surges past players and sets up chances. It would be interesting to see his dribbling stats in that game.

    Sissoko – what a revelation!, it seems impossible – but as with Davies Poch and the staff have turned hm into a very good player.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th November 2018 at 10:19 am #

      5 dribbles completed by Kane according to whoscored.com the most of any Spurs player. Moura was next with 3. Take these with a pinch of salt though as I’m always sceptical as to just what constitutes a dribble and how it is assessed.

  5. Matt 29th November 2018 at 9:44 pm #

    Thanks Mark; nice write up. I agree you can’t replace Eriksen; that’s why he’s worth 100m+ as is Alli and Kane; those players have no (or very few) direct equivalent in the world.

    Dier gets a bit of stick but I’d predict he’ll continue to be a mainstay of our side for the next 5 years and if we put him on the market he’d be going for 50m.

    I really hope we continue the rotation. We’ve got the players especially up front. Maybe with Sanchez and Rise and Trippier back also in defence shortly.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th November 2018 at 10:24 am #

      I think some will only realise just what Dier does and how good he is when he leaves. The most important thing is that Poch knows!

      Rotation seems to be serving us well. This season, more than any, we really need squad depth to cope with the sheer number of games. What’s more, with England qualifying for the Nations League finals, it’ll be again an extended season and unnecessary games eating in to valuable summer rest time.

  6. Brian 29th November 2018 at 10:38 pm #

    Yet anather good assessment Mark.While we all have our own Thoughts and idea;s,about the game.To me Deli Alli,contribution was ,,immense.But the one thing that did concern me was,poch;s exclusion of Son,whose pace along,would have given us that extra edge.Especially as Inter game plan,was to be defensive..Then again,as i said,we all think
    differently.

    Many regards Brian.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th November 2018 at 10:29 am #

      Hi Brian, Son is definitely the first choice, but I think we are carefully managing his minutes. He was at the World Cup then stayed in training to be at peak level for the all important gold medal try at the Asian games. I think he’s needed a rest since then as he looked really tired when he came back. Having the last international break off and managing his minutes looks as if its had a good effect, as he has been back to the Son of old in the last two games. I also think Poch had him on the bench here so that he could be in top condition for Arsenal, the same with Eriksen being on the bench too. Eriksen also appears to be on a minutes restriction with his chronic stomach injury. I fully expect to see Kane, Deli, Eriksen, Son (and Dier who was also on the bench here) to be on the team sheet for the Arsenal game.

  7. Chas 30th November 2018 at 5:27 am #

    Brian, I think Poch is wary of overplaying Son, having seen how flat he was after the Asian Cup.
    Also, I don’t think there’s a struck match between Sonny and Lucas for pace but Sonny seems to have the edge when it comes to goals. A little more selfish, perhaps.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 30th November 2018 at 10:31 am #

      Completely agree about Son, Chas. I think he is more direct with his running than Lucas who slaloms a lot more. I think they are both extremely quick. I’d love to see a straight running race between the pair to see who wins!

  8. MurphyN 1st December 2018 at 8:27 am #

    Hi Mark
    Always good to come here and read a considered assessment.
    I know the matches are coming fast but will you have time to preview the Barca game? Would love to read your predictions.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st December 2018 at 9:29 am #

      Hi MurphyN. I’ll try and do a Barca preview. The match does come with the major variables of just how full a strength side they put out and how bothered they’ll be having already qualified.

      What the match at Wembley and our preseason 2-2 draw have both shown is that they are vulnerable in the full back zones. I think we need to attack this so I’d go with a 3-5-2 with wingbacks.

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