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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.