Tottenham Hotspur made their public preseason debut today in Melbourne, Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, but fell to Juventus 2-1 in the first match of the International Champions Cup. Paulo Dybala and Mehdi
Beniata Benatia each scored a goal in the opening 15 minutes, and while Erik Lamela halved the lead it wasn’t enough to force the match to penalties.
Both teams brought mostly fringe and reserve players to Australia. Spurs opted to rest their European Championship stars and play backups and youth. Juventus did likewise, starting players such as Alex Sandro and new signing Miralem Pjanic.
Spurs began the game with an entirely unproven defense. 20-year old Dominic Ball and 18-year old Cameron Carter-Vickers started the match in central defense, with 20-year old child-actor-turned-footballer Will Miller at left back, and 25-year old Kieran Trippier the “elder defensive statesman” at right back.
It didn’t start out very well. Dybala got Juventus a quick lead just minutes into the first half after Dominic Ball was dispossessed in Spurs’ own half. Cameron Carter-Vickers attempted a last-ditch tackle but it was for naught and Dybala slotted past Michel Vorm to put the Old Lady up 1-0.
Juventus put a lot of pressure on Spurs’ young back line early, and capitalized on it. After drawing a fine save from Michel Vorm, Spurs fell asleep on defense again and new Juventus player Mehdi Benatia, on loan from Bayern Munich, was able to direct a free header past Vorm to double the Italians’ lead.
Spurs switched to a 4-3-3 after the second goal with Tom Carroll dropping deeper to see if they can get more possession and start to dictate the pace of the match. That stabilized the midfield somewhat, but Spurs still weren’t able to get a whole lot going in terms of offense. Tom Carroll had a couple of nice crosses into the box that were blocked away and he was one of the better Spurs players in what was mostly a pretty poor first half.
The first 90 minutes ended with Spurs down 2-0.
Spurs made several changes to start the second half. Miller, Mason, Chadli, and Son Heung-Min made way for Harry Winks, DeAndre Yedlin, Erik Lamela, and Josh Onomah. Immediately, Spurs looked a better team than they did in the first half. They held and controlled the ball better, did better shielding the defensive line, and looked lively going forward.
Later in the half, Anton Walkes, Shayon Harrison, and Marcus Edwards came in for Janssen, Trippier, and Tom Carroll. Edwards in particular was exciting to watch — diminutive in size on the pitch, he nonetheless was fearless with the ball, going straight at the Juventus defenders.
Lamela scored Spurs’ only goal in the 67th minute. Victor Wanyama won the ball in midfield and fed a (slightly deflected) pass to Lamela, who took his shot well and fired the ball into the bottom right corner past Juventus keeper Neto. It was a well placed goal, and Lamela seemed to be continuing his good performances with Argentina in this summer’s Copa America.
Shayon Harrison nearly equalized the match for Spurs in the dying moments off of a great run into space behind the Juventus defenders. His shot was good, but Neto was there and made a nice save.
The final score was 2-1.
- Dominic Ball and Cameron Carter-Vickers had a horror-show of a first half in central defense. Ball especially looked completely out of his depth and was absolutely schooled for Juventus’ opening goal. I thought both settled in a little bit after the first half hour, but based on that opening neither is ready for Premier League football.
- Will Miller, however, intrigued me. He’s not really a left back but he had some decent moments in the first half up the left flank and looked industrious. I thought, considering the situation, he comported himself well.
- The Mason-Wanyama midfield was pretty poor in the first half. Ryan Mason continued to Ryan Mason all over midfield, and Wanyama looked decent defensively but his passing was pretty dreadful. However, he looked much, much better paired with Harry Winks in the second half, and had a nice assist that set up Erik Lamela for Spurs’ only goal. I’m already liking this signing.
- It’s perhaps a testament as to how bad the first half was that Tom Carroll was, I thought, clearly Spurs’ best player. He seemed to be the only player who was doing anything progressive and positive with the football and he had a couple of pretty good crosses into the box that, by no fault of his own, amounted to nothing.
- Janssen, Son, and Chadli all did virtually nothing. Especially Chadli. But none of them were helped by the fact that Spurs couldn’t seem to string two passes out there in the first half and they weren’t getting any service. I wouldn’t worry about them yet.
- Speaking of Lamela, he looked pretty darned good out there. I really hope this is the season where he laces up his scoring boots.
- Marcus Edwards had a few moments with the ball and he looks, well, FAST. And short. But also fast. He seemed to want to take on everyone whenever he touched the ball. It usually didn’t work, but you could see snatches of both his skill and his speed.
- Josh Onomah looked really solid in the second half. He clowned at least two Juventus players and looked dynamic out there. I was quite impressed and want to see more of him. In fact, the team that was on the pitch by the end of the game was about a billion times more fun than the team that started the match.
- I was also pleasantly surprised by Harry Winks, who looks like he’s grown about six inches over the summer. Winks was steady on the ball, and showed a fiery disposition at times as well. Based on that half, I think he might be ready for some Cup minutes.
- DeAndre Yedlin played most of his shift at left back, but even out of position he looked pretty decent, and he was markedly better than Kieran Trippier once he shifted to right back late in the match. I think we may have a positional battle on our hands here.
- Josh Onomah, Marcus Edwards, Shayon Harrison, and Anton Walkes all have big hair with frosted tips and it’s really hard to tell them apart on TV. But I admire their commitment to match their hair color to the color of Spurs’ third kits.
- Saw lots of people who were MAD ONLINE about this match on social media. It’s a friendly. This is when you try shit and see what happens. Pretty sure Poche learned a thing or two about some of his reserve players after watching this match.