Tottenham Hotspur went to Athens for the first match in their 2019-20 Champions League campaign against Olympiacos, but it didn’t work out the way they were hoping. Harry Kane scored from the penalty spot and Lucas Moura leathered a ball into the back of the net in the first half, but conceded just before halftime. After Jan Vertonghen’s foul in the box led to an equalizing penalty for the Greek side, Spurs escaped with a 2-2 draw.
Spurs looked listless and poor for much of the match, and afterwards Mauricio Pochettino did not mince words in telling the assembled press that his side needs to do much, much better to equal the heroics of last year’s Champions League campaign.
“I feel very disappointed. To be honest, first half I wasn’t happy with our performance. From the beginning we had a plan and we didn’t respect the plan. That was what disappointed me the most. I told the players at half-time.
“We scored two goals from the penalty and from Lucas, but if you only analyze the performance it wasn’t great. We conceded a lot of chances to Olympiacos and the way we conceded the first goal was so painful. We didn’t translate from Saturday that type of aggression these type of level of games demand. That is my biggest disappointment.
“In the second half we were better, we realized and changed, but then we conceded a very soft penalty and of course we create may chances to score. I thought we dominated in the second half but overall I think the result is fair.”
Pochettino was obviously showing his frustration after his side dropped another 2-0 lead to end up with a draw in a match they should’ve won. Both were away from home — first against Arsenal and then tonight at Olympiacos. Poch tried to be clear that the effort and intensity that he had asked for from his team was noticeably absent, though once again he refused to throw any individual player under the bus.
“I think it’s easy to explain. When we are not showing that intensity that the competition demands we struggle. We are not talking about quality. We’re talking about being focused, concentrated, aggressive, anticipating the action. How many times did we anticipate today? How many times we were not proactive like we were against Palace?
“That is a very good example in three days, it’s a massive difference. It’s not about tactics, it’s not about quality players, it’s about the quality of preparing yourself to be ready to fight.
At this type of level you need to match the opponent in terms of intensity, aggression, in excitement and motivation and then is going to appear your quality when you are connected with the game. That’s the first demand you need to work with. It’s not only the responsibility of one person. It’s everyone’s responsibility and it’s not possible to, in three days, how we start the game today be a massive difference. That is my disappointment. I feel disappointed for everyone.”
There’s no time to rest — Spurs return to London before heading to Leicester at the weekend for a Saturday match against the Foxes and a midweek trip to Colchester in the League Cup. Their next Champions League match is Tuesday, October 1 when they host Bayern Munich, 3-0 winners over Red Star Belgrade today.