Tottenham earned a hard-fought point Tuesday night in Germany, grinding out a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.
Mauricio Pochettino made several changes from Sunday’s draw with West Brom. Eric Dier replaced the injured Toby Alderweireld in the middle of defence, while Heung-Min Son returned to the starting XI against his former team.
Leverkusen lined up in an extremely attacking formation, with two strikers up top and Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Admir Mehmedi on the wings. That attacking presence showed early — Dier and Hugo Lloris both gave the ball away in the defensive third with some casual passing while under pressure, but Leverkusen couldn’t take advantage of either misstep.
After the home side’s quick start, Tottenham generally bossed the rest of the half, and looked to have taken the lead with their first attack of the game in the 10th minute. After some slick interplay between Son and Erik Lamela, Vincent Janssen had the ball in the back of the net, but the South Korean had already been flagged for offside earlier in the move.
Dele Alli had the first clear cut change in the 27th minute. Victor Wanyama muscled his defender off the ball before releasing Kieran Trippier, who served up an inviting cross into the middle of the box. The young midfielder had a free header from about 10 yards out, but steered it just wide. Alli might have been better leaving it for Son, who was waiting for the ball at the back post.
Spurs had two excellent chances to take the lead before the break, both involving Janssen. The Dutchman got on the end of another good cross from Trippier, heading it onto the crossbar. Lamela pounced on the rebound, but his mishit scissor kick was tipped over by Bernd Leno.
Just a few minutes later, Janssen picked his defender’s pocket by the touchline and squared for Eriksen, but the pass was deflected out for a corner.
Javier Hernandez, who had been relatively quiet, had a quick snapshot just before half time, but failed to trouble Hugo Lloris.
Spurs couldn’t keep Chicharito quiet for long — just after the restart Lars Bender whipped the ball across the face of goal, where Hernandez looked certain to break the deadlock. Lloris somehow managed to keep it out, making a stunning, sliding save. Despite Leverkusen’s vocal protestations, goal-line technology showed the ball was about 80 percent over the line — close, but no cigar.
Leverkusen continued to pile on the pressure. Lloris saved well from a free-kick while Danny Rose was called on to clear off the line twice in quick succession. The Germans had a good shout for a penalty after a corner appeared to bounce off Rose’s arm, but the referee waved off the appeals.
The introduction of Mousa Dembélé solidified the midfield and helped Spurs get back into the game, but it was the home side that had the best chance late in the game. Kevin Kampl found some space on the left and delivered an enticing cross into the six-yard box, but Stefan Kiessling directed his close-range effort wide.
Neither side could break the deadlock, and the game ended scoreless. The game was played at a pretty frenetic pace and Spurs in particular looked pretty gassed towards the end.
- Spurs were on top for most of the first half, but couldn’t take advantage, which is a slightly worrying trend.
- Keeping a clean sheet away from home without Alderweireld is nice, and Eric Dier put in a solid shift. Maybe his absence won’t be as disastrous as we all thought it might be.
- Trippier wasn’t terrible! He created a few chances with some nice crosses and defended fairly well. Bear in mind he was up against a 19-year-old left-back, but considering he’s one of the weakest players on the team, this was a decent performance.
- Hugo is a saint and we don’t deserve him
- Monaco snatched a late equalizer in Moscow to go back to the top of the group. That leaves Spurs a point back in second in what’s shaping up to be a tightly-fought group. All four teams are separated by just three points after the first round of matches.
- That was stressful. Time to take a nap.