Tottenham Hotspur ended its two-day trip to Germany in style today, defeating AC Milan 2-0 at the Allianz Arena in Munich and taking third place in the 2015 Audi Cup. Nacer Chadli and Tom Carroll scored as Spurs rested most of their starting players ahead of this Saturday's EPL-opening match against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Both teams started the match treating it like a friendly and less as a third-place cup competition match. The pace was slow, and the pressure was light. Tottenham rested Harry Kane, who didn't play at all, and rotated in players who are likely going to feature at Old Trafford. Josh Onomah started the match as a "striker" in what felt more like a 4-6-0 formation, with Nacer Chadli operating more or less as a false nine. Even Spurs' young keeper Luke McGee got the starting nod ahead of Michel Vorm.
Spurs had the bulk of the early chances, and Chadli was the first to score in the 8th minute off of a long rocket of a shot that went in the top right corner past Milan's Christian Abbiati.
Five minutes later, Josh Onomah had a nice chance of his own. He collected a beautiful pass from Ben Davis and was one-on-one with the keeper but was incorrectly flagged for offside. In the 22nd minute, Onomah was again the target of a cross inside the box, this time from Chadli, but he was unable to control the ball well.
Tom Carroll also had a fantastic scoring opportunity in the 33rd minute. Carroll slashed diagonally into the box and was met with a perfect weighted through ball from Erik Lamela, but Abbiati did well to parry his shot away.
Milan's best opportunity of the match came shortly before halftime. Eric Dier, who started again in the pivot, was caught dithering with the ball and Milan's Suso took advantage. Suso's shot was well covered by McGee, who made a good save to prevent the goal.
The action hotted up slightly in the second half as players rotated out and in. Harry Winks, Ryan Mason, and Hugo Lloris were subbed in midway through the half to applause from the traveling Spurs supporters. Mason had a good shift as an attacking midfielder, playing higher up the pitch in Chadli's role instead of his customary spot in the pivot. Mason had a decent half chance soon after taking the pitch, but fired a shot from the top of the box well over Abbiati's head.
It was Tom Carroll who doubled Spurs' lead in the 71st minute, collecting a fine through ball from Kieran Trippier and one-touching a skipping shot into the bottom left corner. It was no less than he deserved after putting in an impressive match for Tottenham.
The match ended 2-0.
- Tom Carroll almost certainly needed some good offseason performances to convince Pochettino not to sell him this summer. He did that, in spades. Carroll flat-out ran the midfield while he was in the game, displaying some outstanding passing and midfield vision, and also producing a gorgeous diagonal run for a shot in the first half. His second half goal was the icing on the cake, as his one-touch shot was fantastic. Really, really nice match from English Xavi. If you're reading this, please unblock @cartilagefree, Tom, we love you.
- Dele Alli got mop-up minutes but impressed again in his short shift. I think he's starting this Saturday, you guys. It's happening.
- Nacer Chadli was as Nacer Chadli-ish as it's possible for a Nacer Chadli to be. Given more or less a free role in a quasi-strikerless formation, he was all over the pitch but was as infuriating as he was magnificent. His long-range goal was a thing of beauty, but his touch at times left a lot to be desired. The way he lost the ball on Josh Onomoah's (gorgeous!) 40-yard through ball was, well, quite un-dolphin-like. This match was Peak Chadli™. He'll probably start Saturday.
- Josh Onomah really grew into the match, I thought. He looked a little like a deer in the headlights in the first half, a little unsure of what to do, but he really established himself in the second half. He has really nice pace and a decent touch for a youngster. I think he needs to bulk up a little more, but he should see some time in the early rounds of the Cups and in Europa this year. A good shift today.
- It was nice to see Ryan Mason back on the pitch today (no, stop laughing, I'm serious) as an attacking midfielder and not in the pivot. Mason is turning into that kind of player whom will tweak other guys in the back and mouth off, i.e. the kind of dude you hate on every team that isn't yours. Looks like he needs some more game time to get back up to fitness. I do like him higher up the pitch, though I don't see him starting in that role for Spurs yet.
- On a weird day where we sit Harry Kane and essentially play either a 4-6-0 or with Josh Onomah up top, Spurs actually played quite well. Part of that is that AC Milan is pretty trash, part of it is that they were somewhat rotated too, and part of it was that this was a friendly and both sides were sort of in a "who gives a f**k" mode, but the squad that was out there really started to click. That same side would get hammered by United on Saturday, but who cares.
- Thought for the most part Pochettino handled the playing time situation well. Nobody was driven into the ground (except for Bentaleb, who played at least half of each match), the kids got some good PT at the Allianz, and we escaped with one win against a historical Serie A side and a loss to one of the best teams in the world.
- Hugo Lloris' save toward the end of the match is exactly why we can never ever ever sell him to anybody. Good God, Hugo. Hope he starts Saturday.
- Still think the Audi Cup is dumb, but this didn't end up as bad as I thought it might. Nobody's injured, we looked pretty good out there, Hugo's apparently healthy. Bring on United.