Friendly football matches are rarely matches that you actually WANT to watch. Usually it’s dour football, featuring a combination of youth teamers and reserve players alongside first team footballers who aren’t yet anywhere close to in-season form.
But that’s not what we got at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday night. Tottenham Hotspur went down early against Paris Saint-Germain in the sticky Florida heat, but rallied and went on to win 4-2 in the opening match of the 2017 International Champions Cup. Spurs got goals from Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Toby Alderwiereld, and a late penalty from Harry Kane in the win.
Spurs started out the match with the expected mix of first team players and reserves trying to make a good impression. Hugo Lloris started in goal, and had a somewhat speculative defense in front of him that included the periphrastically named Cameron Carter-Vickers at right CB and Kyle Walker-Peters at RB.
It didn’t take long for PSG to start exploiting the lack of experience on that right side. Just six minutes into the match, Walker-Peters overcommitted on a challenge, and Carter-Vickers got skinned by Adrien Rabiot. Rabiot crossed to a wide-open Edinson Cavani, who easily slotted a one-touch shot past Hugo Lloris to put PSG up 1-0.
Spurs took a while to settle into the match, but it was Christian Eriksen who equalized for Spurs five minutes after going down. Eriksen fired a golazo from 35 yards out into the top right corner of the net past PSG keeper Kevin Trapp. It was, without hyperbole, one of the best goals I’ve seen Eriksen score, ever.
Just three minutes later, Spurs went ahead. Spurs were doing their usual high press of the defense, and Eric Dier rushed forward on a back pass to Trapp. Trapp’s kick ricocheted off the boot of Dier and into the net for an improbable, but delightful, goal. Cheeky, yes, but that’s also why you press the keeper on goal kicks and back passes.
The inexperience of Spurs’ back line was exposed again late in the half. This time, it was Walker-Peters who was caught way up the pitch and out of position by Cavani, who found Javier Pastore with a very nice through ball. Pastore fired a rocket past Lloris to level the score, and the first half ended with the two sides deadlocked at 2-2.
Spurs made wholesale changes in the second half, making no fewer than nine substitutions to start the second period.
There was immediate drama just seconds after kick-off of the second half. PSG’s German keeper Kevin Trapp got caught outside his area on a Spurs breakaway and accidentally handled the ball with both hands. The official had no qualms about showing him his marching orders, giving him a straight red and leaving PSG with ten men.
Despite the man advantage, the match quieted down with both teams content to slow down the pace somewhat. PSG still had a couple of decent opportunities to score on the counterattack, but Michel Vorm was up to the challenge.
Just when you thought the match would end in a 2-2 draw, Toby Alderweireld stepped up and rifled home a 25 yard screamer past substitute keeper Alphonse Areola. Just six minutes later, PSG was called for another speculative handball, this time inside their own area. The official pointed to the spot, and Harry Kane stepped up to bury the penalty kick to put Spurs up 4-2.
That’s how the match ended, with Spurs deserved winners after an unexpectedly entertaining match.
- Preseason is about fitness and working out the tactical kinks, so it’s important to temper your expectations. That said, I was delighted to see youngsters like Tashan Oakley-Booth and Kyle Walker-Peters get game time. These are players that are quite possibly the future of Tottenham Hotspur.
- This was not a great match for Cameron Carter-Vickers. He got completely skinned on the first goal and overcommitted himself on a number of occasions. I remember him doing something similar in last season’s preseason matches, and that’s not great. He’s still really young, but he does not look ready to be a regular first team contributor.
- Kyle Walker-Peters looked, for the most part, good. He was quite industrious and showed a good cross a time or two. He looked nervous and played conservatively, and got caught WAY out of position for PSG’s second goal, but he didn’t look awful for the most part. I’m still not ready to commit to him as a reserve wingback, though. Let’s buy Pereira.
- Christian Eriksen’s goal was absolutely sick. He hasn’t missed a beat.
- Josh Onomah played mostly as an RAM, which was disappointing after watching him play well in the pivot in the U20 World Cup. Had a quiet match.
- Vincent Janssen was also quiet, only managing one weak shot on goal, but he also wasn’t getting a lot of service. Reports are he’s been tearing up training, but this looked a lot like Old Janssen, and not New Janssen.
- I was very happy to see Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks out there. Moose looks like he hasn’t missed a step since his surgery after last season and was as strong as ever. Winksy had a quiet game, but he was playing his first football since his injury last season. We’ll need both of them if Spurs are going to challenge for the title.
- Overall: a lot of good, a little bit of bad, but Spurs were clinical and that’s a great sign in preseason. On to New York!