Defensive pressing was key during Tottenham 1-0 MIlan in the International Champions Cup.

Tottenham 1-0 Milan: pressing matters

The success of the press was a key feature in our International Champions Cup match, which finished Tottenham 1-0 Milan in Minneapolis.

A much-changed line-up, which featured a number of young faces, was able to edge to victory in our International Champions Cup match. The game ended Tottenham 1-0 Milan where the success of the press was one of the few positive takeaways.

Tottenham press

Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes, which included a midfield trio of Luke Amos, Oliver Skipp and George Marsh. Combining their energy with the speed of Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Lucas Moura and Tottenham relentlessly hounded the Milan back line.

Pepe Reina under pressure from the press during Tottenham 1-0 Milan.

Pepe Reina under pressure from the press.

The objective was twofold. Firstly, to pressure a Milan team that insists on playing out from the back. Second, to test the clearing skills of goalkeeper Pepe Reina. The Milan keeper came under constant pressure from one of our front six looking to immediately close him down.

Reina responded well to the tactic, frequently finding his targets with passes downfield. However, he also misplaced a few sending them out for throw-ins just outside his penalty area.

The ploy almost paid off for Tottenham with a goal. Reina played short To Manuel Locatelli when under pressure from Fernando Llorente. Luke Amos then pounced ahead of Locatelli, but sent the ball just agonisingly wide of the post.

Amos almost punishes Locatelli during Tottenham 1-0 MIlan.

Amos almost punishes Locatelli.

Milan attacks the full backs

Milan took a while to get going, but when the Italians did, they were looking to attack our full backs.

Kyle Walker-Peters faired well against Hakan Calhanoglu. However, stand-in left back Anthony Georgiou was given a torrid time by Suso. Georgiou was often left two versus one as Franck Kessie was allowed to double up.

Franck Kessie and Suso double up on Anthony Georgiou during Tottenham 1-0 Milan.

Franck Kessie and Suso double up on Anthony Georgiou.

Suso became the source of many good crosses and balls in to the box. He put in two that just evaded centre forward Patrick Cutrone. Suso’s next effort found Cutrone’s forehead, which forced an excellent reaction save from Michel Vorm.

Suso then sent a devilish ball straight through the six-yard box that just evaded two Milan players who only needed a touch.

On the other side, Kyle Walker-Peters faired better against Hakan Calhanoglu, but still had his scares. Calhanoglu also found the hapless Cutrone’s forehead, but again the wasteful centre forward missed the target.

Milan mistakes

Tottenham pressing, combined with Milan mistakes, settled the match.

The key was the aggressive positioning of Georges-Kevin Nkoudou. This allowed him to score from one error and should’ve seen him capitalise on a second.

Davide Calabria twice gifted Nkoudou scoring chances, the first of which saw the game’s only goal.

Tottenham were closing in on the unfortunate left back, which saw Calabria try a lofted pass over the top of Fernando Llorente to Mateo Musacchio. However, Calabria got his pass completely wrong and instead sent the ball straight to Georges-Kevin Nkoudou.

Calabria passes straight to Nkoudou who scores a goal during Tottenham 1-0 Milan.

Calabria passes straight to Nkoudou who scores a goal.

Fresh off scoring in Barcelona 2-2 Tottenham Nkoudou raced towards goal. Without hesitating he fired the ball in to the top corner past replacement goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. Tottenham 1-0 Milan and finally the goal our excellent pressing and closing down had deserved.

A goal to the good and Nkoudou should’ve had a second. Calabria once more made the mistake when under pressure. The defender sent the ball back towards his goalkeeper without even looking. It wound up straight at the feet of Nkoudou who was cutting off Calabria’s escape route.

Calabria passes straight to Nkoudou during Tottenham 1-0 Milan.

Calabria passes straight to Nkoudou.

Having showed a ruthlessness to punish the previous error, Nkoudou failed to demonstrate composure when presented with a much more guilt-edged chance. The Milan keeper easily saved his instant shot. A chance to put the game away had gone begging.

Milan attack the wingbacks

Milan spent much of the game trying to get Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu on the ball against our full backs. A switch of formation by Mauricio Pochettino to a back three saw Milan almost earn a draw through attacking our wingbacks.

Suso and Calhanoglu had been removed, but the introduction of Luca Antonelli saw him twice create great chances to equalise. The wide forward attacked the space caused by the confusion between Kyle Walker-Peters and stand-in centre back Serge Aurier.

Antonelli was able to sneak in behind the pair due to them both being caught too high. Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies on the other side highlighted where Walker-Peters and Aurier should’ve been. Getting caught too far up and apart from each other allowed Antonelli to run in unopposed.

Walker-Peters and Aurier caught too high allows Antonelli in on goal during Tottenham 1-0 Milan.

Walker-Peters and Aurier caught too high allows Antonelli in on goal.

Antonelli had a relatively simple ball to square for Nikola Kalinic to slot home, but he over hit the pass, leaving the forward seething.

It looked as if that would be Milan’s last chance. However, deep in to injury time, Antonelli was at it again. The Milan man pulled away from Kyle Walker-Peters to head down for Jesus Mauri this time. However, Mauri could only slash his shot wildly wide. The match ended Tottenham 1-0 Milan for our second victory of this International Champions Cup tour.

Tottenham 1-0 Milan overall

Mauricio Pochettino made a lot of changes and the disjointed Tottenham performance reflected that.

Our pressing and closing down was good and ultimately created our best chances. Conversely, our ball progression through the team with a midfield trio of Amos, Skipp and Marsh was severely lacking. They are young and will improve, but Christian Eriksen’s arrival in to the midfield highlighted just what a special player he is and how a capable backup for him is vital going in to the new season.

Pressing ultimately won the day, but Mauricio Pochettino has more pressing matters with the transfer deadline looming.

Final score: Tottenham 1-0 Milan.
MOTM: Suso.

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6 Responses to Tottenham 1-0 Milan: pressing matters

  1. YouShubes 1st August 2018 at 8:06 pm #

    Shame that we did not yet sign Grealish this game would have been perfect for him… While I thought we closed down well we had no player who could play the ball through the lines… thought Amos and Skipp passed the ball well though…

    Milan seemed to be able to cut us open at will once they got in behind our midfield… their two “number 10s” should have had some assists if not for some woeful finishing. We lack a wise head in that midfield and it told….

    I am hoping KWP can improve his positional sense as he is not as fast as his namesake…

    Hard to read into these as well they are friendlies but we do seem to have a good crop of kids…GKN played off the ball better than I give him credit for… just not sure where he fits esp if we sign Zaha

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd August 2018 at 12:32 pm #

      Yes the midfield trio did’t really lend itself to playing incisive passes. Although, we have been crossing the ball well against Roma and Barca and we very rarely got in to crossing positions here, which is why Llorente wasn’t even a factor like he was against Roma.

      I think KWP really needs a loan to another Premier League club. It would really give him playing time and to see if he can cope with this level. I also think playing him both left and right is messing with him a bit and he needs to just focus on being a right back.

      With so many players to come back I can’t see GKN getting much time. If Zaha comes then he really won’t get a look in.

  2. Chas 2nd August 2018 at 5:11 am #

    Being up against Moura, Son and Lamela, I don’t see GKN having any chance of a spot – unless we suffer injuries. Despite his goals in the US, it’s doubtful he’s up to our standard. More likely he’ll be sold in the January window I would think. Maybe Poch will give him a few “on display” games. but that thinking didn’t get any bites for Sissoko!
    I have similar thoughts about KWP making the grade, too. I said last season, despite all the hysteria over his debut, that he had problems and he doesn’t appear to have made any progress.
    His lack of games later in 2017/8 suggests Poch sees him the same way.
    Now I have to find a good book to dig into, whilst all the non-transfer news comes and goes, and Spurs Fanatic awaits the Newcastle game!
    COYS. You too, Levy.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd August 2018 at 12:38 pm #

      KWP has done ok since making his debut. Like you I haven’t been blown away and for me the jury is out on him at the minute. I do see some potential and Poch can turn average full backs in to good ones so I wouldn’t be doing anything drastic just yet. I think he should go on loan where he can get some good playing time to see if he’s up to scratch. It’s difficult to be hard on him as he gets switched between right and left which can’t be doing him any favours and may actually be harming his development. It takes a really experienced full back to be able to play well on both sides of the formation so I think he just needs to play on his natural right side.

      I’ll be back for Girona game! A last chance to weigh up the squad before Newcastle and what we might do without our World Cup heroes!

  3. Toby4eva 3rd August 2018 at 12:05 pm #

    Too funny Chas!

    Great humour is steeped in the mirror of truth.

    Hope it’s a better read than NewsNow!

    Jeez I love this joint.

    I‘m a complete, random interloper from the other side of the globe and this site makes me feel like I’m listening to Jeff Beck, John Coltrane or Mozart every time I plug in.

    This is why for me football is like music.

    Art, finesse, inventiveness, uniqueness, unpredictability, drama and above all – passion.

    Thank you Mark for your endeavour and delivery.

    Thank you all who contribute to our virtual, up-market pub around the corner from the Lane.

    This what the internet has done to transform our lives.

    Football and music share a universal overlay of the technology.

    Two things that most of the 7 billion of us can understand and savour.

    There is a simple lesson there for all of us.

    Thanks again Mark.

    (Insert obligatory sycophant alert).

    This window has been tough for us – but remember and savour the greatest FIFA World Cup showcase that our club will ever experience.


    We could be Aston Villa supporters.

    (Random thought – my grandmother was born in Birmingham).

    There will no doubt be activity next week.

    And we are going to the new “Lane”.

    Levy is above all a businessman.

    He simply can’t let all our recent success flush, um, down the, um, toilet bowl.

    Ya gotta have faith.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th August 2018 at 12:46 pm #

      Very beautifully put. Thanks for the kind words and summing up a lot of the joy that doing the site also brings me. The comments and discussion make it all worthwhile. Here’s to another great season! Onwards and upwards!