In Tottenham Hotspur’s final run out before the season kicks off against Brentford, the Lilywhites took on a strong Barcelona side. Spurs went into the half 2-1 to the good, before they succumbed to late goals to fall away 4-2.
Oliver Skipp was the scorer of both Spurs goals on a night where there were strong performances from a couple of the usual suspects this preseason. Giovanni Lo Celso and Yves Bissouma were both fantastic, and Ivan Perisic had a decent outing as well. Spurs looked fantastic at periods through the match and the press was looking more and more coherent; unfortunately, there was often space available in behind the backline, which Barcelona exploited on a number of occasions.
The main focus of this match though was getting players 90 minutes match-fit and bedding in Ange’s tactics, with a heavily rotated side (all outfield players) playing long minutes as well as some minutes for some of the youth coming through.
Here are my match reactions.
- Interestingly, Spurs set up in defense with Davinson Sanchez on the left and Eric Dier on the right, perhaps the opposite of what you would expect. It didn’t go well for Spurs, with Raphinha absolutely torching Sanchez before finding Robert Lewandowski far post, where Pedro Porro had completely lost his man (according to type) to open the scoring.
- Barcelona nearly had a second early on, with clear space available in behind the Tottenham backline that Barca looked to exploit.
- Eric Garcia had a pretty horrible challenge on Oliver Skipp - especially for a friendly. Very much in the realms of “orange card”. There was a another such challenge by Gavi on Manor Solomon soon after.
- It was a gorgeous move that saw Spurs find their equaliser. Gio Lo Celso was heavily involved from deep, before his late run into the box was found by Sergio Reguilon. Gio’s shot hit the post, but Skipp calmly slotted in the rebound. It was a great piece of play!
- There was a clear handball from Alejandro Balde in the box that should have been a penalty but the referee must have forgotten his glasses because there were a few odd no-calls through the half.
- You wouldn’t think “Oliver Skipp” and “towering header” belong in the same sentence, but that was exactly what happened when Skippy headed in his second off a fantastic Perisic cross.
- Barcelona really seemed to struggle at times with Spurs’ press - which was partially the creator of the second goal.
- It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall for Ange’s halftime talk (especially after Shakhtar) because it did seem again like Spurs clocked off a little just before halftime, and Barcelona nearly made them pay with a headed chance.
- No changes were made at the half, indicating a similar approach to Saturday's friendly - the goal was to test fitness by playing long minutes.
- Ange gave Guglielmo a quite dirty look after he overhit a long ball out wide to Pedro Porro.
- There was a bit of an odd moment where Lo Celso was fouled just outside the Barcelona penalty area, but then the free kick was taken from about 10 yards deeper.
- Both teams had chances as the half wore on, but again - Barcelona really struggled with the Spurs press, with players in white regularly getting to second balls first.
- Tottenham really started to ramp up the pressure just before the 60 min mark, with Barcelona’s players starting to look visibly frustrated.
- Davinson Sanchez really grew into the game after his early gaffe, with a number of crucial defensive interventions; not least on Robert Lewandowski when he looked almost certain to score.
- Soon after that period of pressure from Spurs, Barcelona made a number of substitutions, and they definitely made an impact with Barca looking immediately sharper.
- We got a Djed Spence sighting! He came on for Perisic, with a slight reshuffle having him playing on the right wing. It was good to see some minutes for Alfie Devine as well, who slotted into midfield for Oliver Skipp (let him get his hattrick Ange ffs). Dane Scarlett got some more time on the pitch as well. The subs injected more energy and the Spurs press came back in full force.
- Unfortunately, Barcelona managed to play once more into that space in behind for their second. The Spurs defense were completely caught out of position and Ferran Torres had a tap-in to equalize the scores.
- Bissouma, who was again excellent, went down late on to give everyone a scare, but thankfully he came back on and it seemed like tiredness more than anything else, before finally subbing off for Pape Matar Sarr.
- Vicario made a couple of excellent saves in this match.
- Spurs looked for a winner but unfortunately Ansu Fati stole it at the other end, with both Eric Dier and (surprise) Pedro Porro totally out of position giving him a clear run in on goal.
- Barca sealed the deal with a fourth goal to take the match 4-2 after Sergio Reguilon went down injured and Yamal exploited the space in behind.
- The final scoreline was unfortunate, and not at all reflective of the match. Spurs could have definitely won it, and remember that this was effectively a second string side against a very strong Barcelona lineup!
- If anything, this just excites me more for this season. It’s incredible how quickly the squad have taken to Ange-ball, and I think this match was really good prep for the weeks ahead.
- COYS, and bring on Brentford!