Tottenham Hotspur got their 2022-23 Champions League campaign off to a fantastic start with a 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Although Spurs were (very) slow to get going, the game was turned on its head after Chancel Mbemba was sent off after a chance-saving tackle on Son Heung-Min. Brazilian forward Richarlison scored a second half brace, both headers from lovely balls into the box, and Tottenham took home the full three points. The final score was 2-0.
There’s plenty to talk about from this match. Was it a good win? Yes! Was it a good match? Errrrrrrrrrr... The result did have a sense of the inevitable about it, but the result looked far from a foregone conclusion. Marseille set up to frustrate and were mostly successful in that, while Tottenham suffered through some tired legs and some dispiriting performances for much of the match, including the whole of the first half.
Here are my match notes from this performance.
- This was a good win, but it was not really a good game. For much of the match, Spurs again looked bereft of creativity or passing, especially through the midfield. Things really changed after that first goal, which maybe is the real takeaway from this match.
- Marseille started off pressing very high, winning the ball quickly, but didn’t create much from all that time on the ball. Spurs seemed content to let them do it, like they were inviting them to run into a brick wall repeatedly in order to tire themselves out.
- Pretty dull and turgid first half. The midfield wasn’t working well in the opening half hour, lots of bad touches and wayward passing so that the counterattack couldn’t break through into space.
- Eric Dier seemed to be operating in some sort of weird defensive free role for part of the first half, with Hojbjerg dropping into the back line to cover. It was strange, but maybe it was just tactical.
- A few decent half-chances near the end of the first half, none better than Harry’s shot to the far post. Had Pau Lopez wrong footed.
- I liked the Kulusevski for Royal sub — when you’re up a player in a match where you’re not creating much, take off a defender! Go for it! And I’d like to see more of Deki at right wingback, that was fun.
- I didn’t like the Tanganga/Davies for Lenglet/Romero subs nearly as much. I get there’s a big match on Saturday, but it did not look like a goal intended to create a goal (even though Spurs scored straight afterwards).
- Richarlison, my goodness. O Pombo really came through when it counted with two exceptional headed goals, one from a cross from Perisic and one from an excellent ball in from Hojbjerg. Pru pru pru pru
- Marseille really opened up after the first goal went in which really puts a point that they were more or less attempting to stodge up the match and try and escape with a point.
- Son clearly has the yips, but he did win us the match by earning a red card on a break. At what point do we start to get worried, though?
- MATT DOHERTY LIVES!!
- The defense was again quite good in this match, but this was, I think, Harry Kane’s worst game of the season. He can’t keep playing 90 minutes, Conte is going to have to find a way to get him some rest or his legs are going to fall off.
- Lovely to see Spurs booing all of the former Arsenal players whenever they touched the ball. Really did feel like old times, like REALLY old times when Arsenal were in the Champions League.
- Sporting easily dispatched Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in the other Group D match, so this sets up a really exciting and important trip to Lisbon next Tuesday. Get points there, and Spurs are very strong favorites to escape this group.
- Let’s all have a laugh at Liverpool.