Mauricio Pochettino spoke before the tie against PSV Eindhoven in Group B in the Champions League about how it would be a match that would ‘prove Spurs title credentials.’ What it ultimately proved was that Spurs have much to learn and Hugo Lloris can be World Class one minute, and a calamity the next.
Spurs All But Out Of Group Stage As Hugo Lloris Becomes Villain
Against West Ham United, Hugo Lloris made three exceptional saves. Saves that not only meant Spurs won one nil rather than losing 3-1, but also proved that World Class is not too strong a Word for the World Cup winner and Spurs skipper. But when he makes errors they are costly. Very costly.
Lloris had little to do for most of this Group B match that both teams had to win to stand any realistic chance of progressing through to the knock out stages of the Champions League. Spurs had dominated the match and when they led 2-1 with just over ten minutes remaining, the tie was theirs to win and three huge points looked likely to give Spurs confidence going into the final three group matches.
That all changed when Christian Eriksen gave the ball away cheaply in midfield and Lozano sprinted toward goal. Hugo Lloris had no reason to come out but he did and slid out of his box taking Lozano with him. It could be argued that Sanchez was covering but the consequent red card was not a surprise. Then with just four minutes remaining, PSV Captain Luuk de Jong poked home and Spurs had hit self-destruct again.
Basic Errors Not Acceptable
Hugo Lloris was not the only Spurs player at fault when it came to PSV’s goals. Toby Alderweireld was caught in the first half leading to PSV’s opener and it is basic errors that have cost Spurs in this seasons Champions League group stages. And also the inability to finish games off or see games out. Or a combination of both.
Tottenham had the game against Inter Milan by the scruff of the neck only to fall asleep and grab defeat from the jaws of victory. Naivety cost spurs again against Barcelona and they simply have not learned their lesson throughout this campaign. And that is not acceptable from a team of Spurs’ quality.
From Last Season’s Heroics to This Season’s Backward Step
When Spurs were drawn against Real Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund last season, it was deemed an almost impossible task for Spurs to progress through the group stages. Mauricio Pochettino’s team stood up and were strong, resilient, attacking and fearless as they got through the group with stunning performances against Real Madrid in particular. The 3-1 victory over Real at Wembley was a sign of just how far Spurs had come under Pochettino.
Juventus ended Spurs journey in the round of 16. Spurs played their part in their own downfall in that two-legged affair so this season’s campaign so far is all the more frustrating for the fans, players and manager. PSV and Inter, good teams that they are, are both teams that Spurs should have looked to beat. Whilst they will still get the chance to put that right in the next two group games, it is hard to see this season’s efforts as anything but a step backward for Tottenham.
PSV are riding high in the Dutch League and are favourites to win the title. They will surely be in the Champions League again next year.
Spurs will be kicking themselves. They should have beaten both Inter and PSV and have six points. Instead, they have one point and have only themselves to blame for giving themselves such a huge mountain to climb.
The focus has to be on winning the final three games or at least not losing them to gain respect from this years competition.
Ultimately both teams are young and vibrant. PSV may not look too negatively on their certain exit, but Spurs must learn from these games. If this was supposed to be a tie that would show if Spurs are true Premier League title contenders, the conclusion is this:
Spurs are a very good team. They should finish in the top four again this season and make up for this season’s errors next year. They have had their best start to a Premier League season without playing well. Next up is Manchester City at Wembley Stadium. If Spurs play like they did for 80 minutes in Eindhoven they can take something from that game, maybe three points. But if they do not rid themselves of the errors of this Champions League campaign, the Premier League title will be just a distant dream.
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