Tottenham Hotspur had their final warm-up before the resumption of the Premier League this evening when they hosted Ligue 1 side OGC Nice in a friendly under the lights at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. About 10,000 fans were in attendance in a reduced capacity stadium, with ticket proceeds benefitting local food banks.
Spurs benefitted from another friendly goal from Matt Doherty 20 minutes into the match, but weren’t able to hold onto the lead. Nice’s Antoine Mendy scored 90 seconds into the second half and neither side could muster another goal, with the final score a 1-1 draw.
Antonio Conte started about as strong a starting XI as he could, with the limited squad available to him. Many of the players who made the World Cup quarterfinals and onward were missing, a list that included Hugo Lloris, Cuti Romero, Harry Kane, Eric Dier, and Ivan Perisic. Several other players were out due to injury and recent illness, including Rodrigo Bentancur, Richarlison, Oliver Skipp, and Djed Spence. Son Heung-Min was also on the sick list, but apparently recovered enough to make Tottenham’s bench. This meant that, for the second straight friendly match, reserve player and midfielder Harvey White started the match in Kane’s place as a false nine.
Here's how we line-up this evening— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 21, 2022
Nice had a very “Oh THAT’S where that guy’s playing now” kind of lineup, which featured a number of familiar names, including Kaspar Schmeichel, Nicolas Pepe (on loan from Arsenal), and Ross Barkley.
Voici le 11 de départ du Gym face aux @SpursOfficial.— OGC Nice (@ogcnice) December 21, 2022
Coup d'envoi à 20h #IssaNissa pic.twitter.com/20G2FntOkv
0’ — We’re underway! Kick-off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium!
4’ — First half chance for Spurs. A Bissouma (!) corner kick is flicked on by Kaspar Schmeichel. Ball falls to Bryan Gil who skies it over the bar. Ross Barkley then has a shot saved on the other end by Forster.
20’ — GOAL! Matt Doherty fires Spurs in the lead! A little bit fortunate for Spurs but we’ll take it. Deki was swarmed at the top of the box, tries to poke a through ball over to Doherty, but it deflects off of Mendy into space. Matt latched onto it and fired it past Schmeichel. 1-0 Spurs! That’s the third straight match that Doherty has scored for Spurs.
Among the goals yet again— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 21, 2022
Great finish, Doc
35’ — Spurs dominating possession statistics in this first half. Defense has let some Nice free kicks near Spurs’ box, but they really haven’t looked that dangerous. Forster has only made one or two saves all half.
HALFTIME! This very much felt like a friendly game, more about fitness than results. That said, Spurs had most of the ball in the first half, and it felt like this was about the system and getting players familiar with how they’ll play against Brentford.
One halftime sub for Spurs — it’s Pape Matar Sarr! He comes on for a solid half of football, replacing Hojbjerg.
46’ — Goal to Nice. 90 seconds after the opening kick, Pepe earns a corner kick for the visitors. The corner falls to Mendy who slots it past Forster to level the score.
55’ — Chance! Kulusevski floats a cross into the box for Emerson Royal, who gets a head on it but it’s tame enough for Schmeichel to make the save.
66’ — Double sub for Spurs: Ben Davies and Eric Dier are on for Clement Lenglet and Davinson Sanchez.
72’ — SO CLOSE! Emerson has a shot that’s saved by Schmeichel and White had a wide-open look with a rebound effort that swerves wide of the post.
74’ — Double sub for Spurs — Son Heung-Min is on, wearing his mask, replacing White. Also, Romaine Mundle comes on for Emerson Royal. He plays LWB, and Doherty switches to RWB.
79’ — Sub for Spurs. Deki’s day is done, he’s off for Alfie Devine.
89’ — Final sub for Spurs. Bryan Gil makes way for 17-year old Will Lankshear.
FULL TIME! That’s it. A relatively blah second half overall, but nobody got hurt and plenty of players got some minutes in their legs, which was, after all the point. Final score is 1-1.
- Davinson Sanchez was captain for this match, and your reaction to this news is probably a Rorschach test of your Tottenham fandom. But he didn’t play especially well, certainly not enough to assuage his critics. Had one hospital pass that nearly led to a Nice chance and let another across his body that led to a corner.
- Matt Doherty had another really nice match on the left side. He combined with Bryan Gil (who was also lively) quite nicely and took his goal well. Was perhaps Tottenham’s best player on the day. Is he our starting LWB until Perisic gets back? (And yes, I know Ryan Sessegnon exists)
- Really pleased with what I saw out of Bissouma, especially in the first half. He looked a lot more progressive with his passing than what I remember seeing of him in the first half of the season and seemed to work well in the midfield two.
- Harvey White isn’t Harry Kane, but he did a decent impression of him, or at least the when Kane drops deeper into midfield. Did a nice job of trying to set up Deki and Bryan who would attempt to run into space.
- Speaking of Deki, god I’ve missed him. He was great again today — somewhat quiet early but with some very nice balls in and around the box.
- Nice to see Sarr get some significant minutes today. He was fine, but he played awfully conservatively. Rarely looked forward and seemed to settle for the safe or simple pass, his first instinct was to recycle the ball. Might have been instruction?
- Bryan Gil continues to look decent in possession, but also frustratingly absent of any kind of final ball. He does well right up until he has to make a decision in and around Spurs’ box. Lots of cul-de-sacs and last second dispossessions. If he could learn to finish, he’d be so much fun.
- We got run-outs for Sonny, which was great, and Eric Dier, which was almost expected. Some of the kids got quick looks, and nobody got injured. Nobody went full-out in this one, which is fine. Sounds like a good friendly match to me!
- Next match: Boxing Day at Brentford. Feels like there are still a bunch of unanswered questions. I’m nervous, y’all. Anyone else nervous?