Tottenham’s first foray into Chanpions League football under the leadership of Mauricio Pochettino ended in disappointment as the team succumbed to a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Monaco in the first showcase European match at Wembley Stadium.
Spurs dominated early on, but fell behind to a Bernardo Silva solo effort in the 15th minute.
Things became worse soon after as a goal from Lemar doubled the visitors lead. Alderweireld pulled a goal back just before half time but it proved not enough to surmount a come back.
Whilst the half-time introduction of midfield maestro Mousa Dembélé gave Spurs a fresh impetus in the second half, Monaco’s professionalism soon proved enough to nullify the attack as any hopes of mounting a serious fight back soon fizzled out.
Pochettino will undoubtedly rue his side’s inability to capitalise on its chances; not a concern for his counterpart Leonardo Jardim whose side saw both of their efforts on target ripple the back of the Wembley net.
Tepid first Champions League fixture for Spurs
Spurs initial three Premier League performances showed a team devoid of confidence and unable to recapture the scintillating form of the 2015-16 campaign.
However, many had hoped that the club had rejuvenated after the international break with an emphatic 4-0 victory away to Stoke City; just in time for the Champions League opener.
Dele Alli speaking post match-
I thought we started poorly today and they punished us for it. But I think we did enough to win the game today, we just didn’t take the chances. They’re a great team and they’re hard to play against. But we dominated the game in the second half, we’ve done what we needed to do, but we just couldn’t score. We just need to pick ourselves up now and make sure we win the next game.
This sadly proved not to be the case as the likes of Lamela, Kane and Dier appeared lethargic whilst in possession; Kane missing a gilt-edged opportunity late on that could have stolen a point for the hosts.
Reaction from the team
Despite a disappointing result, the team were keen to dispel any concerns that the new surroundings had affected the team’s performance.
Pochettino commented: “That’s an excuse. Football is on the pitch, on the grass.
“We need to improve and learn that we cannot concede the goals that we conceded. We need to be aggressive in possession.
“We showed a lack of passion today,” he added. “We cannot concede the goal we conceded. That is the truth.
“That is the way we spoke in the changing room. We all agree. It’s a shame because today was a good opportunity to give to our fans a good performance and a victory. It’s a shame.”
The misfiring Kane and (arguably) greatest performer Dele Alli also took time to comment on the team’s exploits.
Tactical dilemma for Pochettino
Today’s disappointing performance will have undoubtedly left Pochettino concerned as to the best way in which to galvanise his side’s often lacklustre form in front of goal.
The Argentinian opted to drop Dele Alli into a deeper eight position, in the hope that he could accommodate the season’s star performer Erik Lamela and the weekend’s hero Heung-min Son; a gamble that didn’t pay dividends.
The Englishman struggled to adjust to the tactical rigidity of the role; making little effort creating from deep and arguably being at fault for the second goal as he failed to track the run of the goalscorer.
Last season’s Young Player of the Year had significantly more success in his more usual free role behind Kane in the second half but was once again nullified when pushed out to the left wing.
Pochettino will also have concerns as to the form of Harry Kane, who has struggled for goals since an abysmal run at starting at Euro 2016.
Kane cut a forlorn figure up top, often feeding off scraps or pushing out to the right wing in a desperate effort to try and create opportunities for himself.
The 23 year old didn’t fair much better when played in tandem with new signing Vincent Janssen; an obvious lack of pace between the pair playing perfectly into the hands of Monaco’s journeyman centre backs.
With Kane having only scored one tap in Spurs’ first five games of the season, could it be time for the Englishman to be given a rest in favour of the Dutchman?
Spurs head straight back into action when they host Premier League strugglers Sunderland on Sunday, there will be plenty of thinking to do before then.
Written by Joe Thomas
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