Tottenham finished up their preseason tour to Australia by taking on La Liga powerhouse Atletico Madrid at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, but fell to Diego Simeone’s men 1-0. Diego Godin scored the only goal of the match.
Simeone opted to play a fairly strong team with the likes of Fernando Torres, Diego Godin, Saúl, and Gabi all in Atletico’s starting 11. Meanwhile, Spurs ran with a lineup that more resembled their second half squad against Juventus than their first half. Anton Walkes started in defense beside Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks was in the pivot beside Victor Wanyama, while Josh Onomah, Erik Lamela, and Christian Eriksen were in the attacking band behind Vincent Janssen.
Spurs started off lively, pushing the ball forward, playing a quick passing possession game and looking to feed Vincent Janssen, And it worked pretty well, as Spurs kept Atletico on their back heels for much of the match with incisive passing and good vision.
Christian Eriksen stung the hands of Jan Oblak in the seventh minute with a low 25 yard shot off of a feed from Janssen, but perhaps Spurs’ best chance of the half came four minutes later after Josh Onomah put a thunderous volley that rattled the crossbar.
Erik Lamela also had a great chance for Spurs in the 24th minute. Receiving the ball inside the box, he half-volleyed a shot past Oblak that unfortunately deflected off the left post and out.
Atletico started to settle back into the match over time, and took the lead in the 40th minute against the run of play. Atletico captain Gabi fired a free kick just outside the box that was deflected off of Anton Walkes and right in the path of Diego Godin, who poked it past Vorm. There were shouts that the goal should’ve been disallowed for offsides, but the goal stood and Spurs were, somewhat unfairly, down 1-0.
Still, there were lots of positives to take from Tottenham’s opening 45 minutes, despite going into the break down a goal.
Spurs made three substitutions at halftime, bringing in Son Heung-Min, Ryan Mason, and Tom Carroll for Wanyama, Lamela, and Eriksen. Mason played beside Winks in the pivot with Carroll and Son in the band behind Janssen.
Spurs had a few good attempts on goal in the second half, but they were thwarted by Jan Oblak, who had a fantastic match in goal for Atletico. Ryan Mason had a blast parried away after some nice interplay with Son Heung-Min and Vincent Janssen, and around the hour mark Vincent Janssen had a free-kick also well saved.
Kyle Walker-Peters made his first appearance in this preseason trip, replacing Kieran Trippier, and Will “Oliver Twist” Miller replaced Yedlin at LB. Nacer Chadli also replaced Onomah. Later on we also saw cameos from Marcus Edwards, Dominic Ball, and Luke McGee in goal.
Overall, the end of the second half was a pedestrian affair, with few chances created as both teams seemingly content to play out the end of the match and not push for a goal. Spurs dropped their second match in Oz with the final score 1-0.
- Janssen looked a lot better in this match than he did in his 45 minutes against Juventus. This time, he got a lot more service from midfield. But I was also impressed with the way he held up the ball and looked to play in teammates. He’s not flashy, but I think he’s going to do a job for Spurs.
- Cameron Carter-Vickers has some pretty defensive instincts, but he looks like he needs a good loan before he’s ready to be our fourth CB, though maybe some of that may be ameliorated by starting him beside an experienced defender. I also wish he were a few inches taller.
- Is Harry Winks good? I’m not sure. But based on what I’ve seen in two preseason matches I think I’d rather see him in midfield over Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll.
- Fair play to Mason: he went straight at Atletico’s defense in his shift and had a couple of good looks. It’s almost like he knew he was playing for his job.
- Marcus Edwards is undeniably talented, but he needs time to figure out how to play against guys that are much bigger than he is.
- Wanyama again dominated the midfield in the first half. I still think we’re going to see him start beside Dier against Everton. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of lineup Poche puts out to start Spurs’ last friendly against Inter in Norway.
- DeAndre Yedlin spent his entire shift playing at LB, which was disappointing because I thought he was, again, better than Kieran Trippier in this match. I’m not sure what this means for his future at Spurs, though, because Poche clearly seems to favor starting Trips in his natural position over Yedlin.
- It’s tempting to read into Pochettino’s starting lineup and substitute patterns in this match, but I’m not sure we can take too much out of it. Winks and Onomah getting extended minutes is a good thing, and it appears they’re favored over Mason and Chadli. But who knows!
- I’m not fretting the scoreline too much. Spurs had numerous good chances in this match and Jan Oblak had a stormer in goal. Losing 1-0 to Atletico with your B-team on a free kick goal that may or may not have been offside isn’t too shabby.