Tottenham Hotspur took on Real Madrid in the first match of the Audi Cup semifinals at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. Spurs debuted their new purple third kits and played against former Tottenham superstars Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, who both started the match for Madrid.
Tottenham started off with a weird, somewhat experimental lineup: Toby Alderweireld paired with Kevin Wimmer in central defense, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose as the fullbacks. Eric Dier and Dele Alli partnered in the pivot, with Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, and Harry Kane forming the front line.
Both teams started off more or less in first gear, with neither team really going for it or seeming to push hard. Even so, Spurs got the first chance of the match: a nice through ball from central midfield met a surging Kyle Walker who got past Madrid's defender and put in a nice cross into the center. Erik Lamela wasn't able to get a clean shot, and the ball went high.
Three minutes later Madrid striker Jese got a step on Wimmer and put his shot off the crossbar. A few minutes after that, Jese forced a fantastic left-handed save from Michel Vorm to keep the score level.
The match was fairly even for most of the first half despite Madrid not looking particularly sharp or engaged. However, some suspect defending led to Madrid's goal: Spurs failed to put pressure on Isco, who was able to find James Rodriguez. He lost both Dier and Rose and put the ball past Vorm.
The first half ended 1-0 to Madrid.
At halftime, Spurs subbed on Nabil Bentaleb for Dier, Jan Vertonghen for Wimmer, and Nacer Chadli for Erik Lamela.
The match seemed to pick up a little in intensity, but it didn't lead to any more goals. The most exciting thing to happen came midway through the half after Sergio Ramos scissor-kicked Christian Eriksen and drew a yellow card. It was a horrible tackle: a straight red in any competitive match and completely inappropriate for a friendly. Harry Kane showed his leadership by getting straight into Ramos' face immediately afterwards, and thankfully Eriksen was not injured.
The game slowed down midway through the half as the teams decided that maybe one goal was enough. Both sides seemed content to pass the ball around midfield, though Spurs looked like they were at least trying to get into dangerous positions. Harry Winks and Tom Carroll came on for Alli and Eriksen as Spurs rotated their side.
Then the inevitable happened. Gareth Bale picked up on a lazy pass from Nabil Bentaleb in Spurs' half, dribbled past another defender, and rifled a bounced shot past Vorm to put Madrid up 2-0. It was a bad pass and some pretty bad goalkeeping from Vorm, but Gareth Bale is Gareth Bale, and he made the most of that shot. To his credit, Welsh Jesus didn't celebrate his goal, which was classy of him.
Spurs' final sub came late in the 85th minute as youth player Josh Onomah came in at striker for Harry Kane. Real Madrid took their foot off the gas and wound down the clock, and the match ended 2-0.
- The Audi Cup is dumb.
- Look, it's a friendly, against one of the best teams in the world. Nobody should be shocked that Spurs lost, nor should they be surprised that they didn't get that many big chances on goal. Their best one came in the second minute (Lamela's shot off of Walker's cross), and they had a few more half chances. Overall, I thought they held their own.
- Both Madrid goals came from defensive errors: the first came because Spurs didn't pressure Isco in midfield allowing James to get past Rose and Dier, and the second came from an absolutely atrocious pass from Nabil Bentaleb. I'm not hating on either one: you expect those kind of derps in preseason matches. Hopefully they learn from this and improve.
- Michel Vorm was not great, Bob. I thought he could've done much better on both goals, but particularly the second, where he really should've gotten a glove on Bale's shot. Hurry up and get healthy, Hugo Lloris.
- Gareth Bale's goal was just vintage Gareth Bale. Bale just destroyed Harry Winks in midfield and powered that ball in. Credit to him for not celebrating.
- Another cromulent outing from Eric Dier. Again, he's not crap, he's just not particularly good at DM. Can he improve? Undoubtedly. I'm not hating on him, but he's pretty clearly not ready to go up against Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who might eat him.
- Dele Alli? Holy moley. He was amazing, all over the pitch, taking players on, covering lots of ground. AND. HE. NUTMEGGED. LUKA. MODRIC. I'm all aboard the Alli Hype Train. Choo-choo!
- We didn't see Ryan Mason today, which means we'll almost certainly see him in midfield tomorrow against the loser of Bayern and Milan. That said, we'll probably see a bunch of first team XI guys play as well, which really stinks when we have a big match against United coming up.
- Overall, there's a fair number of positives to be taken from this match. Spurs had their moments. They didn't look completely outclassed. They didn't lose by six goals. And nobody got injured, despite the best efforts of Sergio Ramos. I'll call that a net win.