Tag Archives: Real Madrid

Thanks for the Memories Spurs 0 Real Madrid 1

I’ve had some time to reflect after the Madrid defeat before sitting down to write a review. In truth the moment has passed to reflect on the match as normal so I thought that I would think as much about the campaign as the game. 

We’ve a long and hard battle to try and qualify once again for next year’s competition and if we fail to do that when might our next opportunity be? Spurs have been nothing less than sensational in this year’s competition setting a standard for open play and attractive football throughout. The trouble is that Manchester City could do the same next year and with Liverpool once more coming back to life if we slip up we might have to wait a long time.

But then we could just as easily put a decent run together and qualify once more. That makes attracting the striker we need much easier to convert the chances created and keep us competing not just for the top 4 but maybe the top spot. Harry Redknapp talked this way when we were playing well before Christmas and if we make are able to buy well in the summer and keep the squad together that has to be the aim for next season. 

Had our current strikers been more on the money we could have worked Casillas harder and maybe won the tie. It would have been fitting. After being a little sloppy at the start we got going and put Madrid under some pressure. We were unlucky not to be awarded at least one penalty but based on current penalty form could we be trusted to convert it? Pav did his best but was a little wasteful with a decent chance in front of goal and headed just over in the second half and we were extremely unlucky that the official flagged for offside when Bale despatched a shot into the net.

Most disappointing was the way in which we conceded with Gomes allowing a shot from Ronaldo (of all people) to slip through his fingers and into the net. Like Hercules he slips from hero to zero and back again quite rapidly. We love him we hate him but we don’t. He is a great keeper but error prone at the wrong moment. The trouble is, as Arsenal have shown, you can’t win things with a dodgy keeper. 

We had it with Robinson before and Gomes is better and I can recall Ray Clemence letting in a goal like this latest mistake – maybe at the same end – in an important game which maybe also finished 0-1. Yet look around the league and the number of excellent goalkeepers who may want to move are not that many. 

For me a great striker might mean we can stick with Gomes for at least another season in the hope that we score enough to make the odd mishap less painful. Yet throughout the campaign he has performed well. It was our defensive display at Young Boys that put us 3 behind and a disastrous start at Inter that saw us 4 down at half time. Our only other disappointment was away at Twente where we got caught in typical Spurs fashion. 

In the last three CL games Dawson has been immense at the back and the partnership with Gallas rocks. Even though I thought him out of position for away goals at Madrid his performance was outstanding and Rio must be starting to look over his shoulder. 

So to Harry the man many like to criticise for his tactical naivety. Having got us into the competition I don’t feel it is my place to criticise him though I must confess to being a little surprised by Lennon’s substitution. He has improved a lot this season in my opinion and I can only presume that he was withdrawn for maximum rest before Arsenal once we had no chance of getting back into the tie. 

Harry has some difficult decisions to make come the summer and none more so than deciding if we can continue to support Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate through their injuries when others like Kaboul and Bassong might want away for a lack of games. Bassong is certainly one for the future and Bassong does a useful job when called upon but if fit Ledley and Woody would probably get priority. But for how long before their injuries return? 

This is certainly the most capable squad of players that Spurs have had since the days of the Clive Allen team and before and we need to keep them together. Bale and Modric are deemed to be the prime targets but the public speak from both is they are happy and want to stay together. Hopefully Harry will join them either turning down England or escaping from his tax evasion charges as he is more suited to working with players on a daily basis. 

So a disappointing exit to the campaign but achieving the last 8 and after defeating the cream of Italy we played well in the second leg against Madrid. I believe we’ve learnt a lot from this and sincerely hope that we can secure the necessary number of points by the season’s end to get us back into the competition next year.                        

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Let’s take it to them: Tottenham V Real Madrid preview

I’m afraid that our Champions League campaign will come to an end tomorrow night but that’s not to say that I don’t believe we can win the game. My problem is that I cannot see us scoring 5 and if we do we will have to go at it so hard that a goal or two on the break are likely to be conceded. 

With Chelsea and Arsenal also eliminated it is no great disaster. We’ve played and overcome the two most famous clubs in Italy over two legs and been, if not the, one of the most entertaining sides in this year’s competition. As Spurs fans we have to be really proud of our achievement in getting to the last 8 and look towards our opportunity to get back into the competition. 

Unfortunately it looks like it might not be next season and therefore our transfer dealings in the close season will see how we can improve ourselves to mount a stronger challenge away from home next season so that our goal difference improves against our fellow challengers.

But that is for another day. Tomorrow I want to see an up tempo performance from our team like we put on in the first half on Saturday. Granted I don’t want to see the casual moments that allowed Stoke to get 2 back but if we exhibit the same quick thinking and interplay I am hopeful that we can give Madrid a really hard time and make them feel like they’ve been in a game at 9.45 as it comes to a close.

With Rafa playing 90 minutes on Saturday hopefully he will be properly rested and ready for the role he can play. Modric too needs to stamp his mark on an opponent who snuffed him out 8 days ago. Whilst Sandro will be unlucky not to play I think I would continue with Huddlestone particularly if Lennon and Bale are both in the side. 

Tommy’s presence allows Rafa to stick further up the field rather than leaving his partner stranded alone. And who should that partner be? Pav had a good game on Saturday but does drop deep and Defoe is an all out striker so might not bring Rafa in when he is better placed. I fancy both will get a look in and I might start with Pav to reward him for his performance against Stoke.

Hopefully Ekotto will not be carrying a knock and can continue alongside Dawson and Gallas with Charlie at right back. That is our best back line at the present time and I hope that all are ready to take the correct man at the first defensive set piece. This will not be a quiet night for Gomes but I hope that he can keep a clean sheet aiding our chances of a victory – however slim.

Two seasons ago the thought of playing Real Madrid at home in any European Competition would be a mere dream as would have games against either Milan side so this has been a terrific experience. Even a failure to secure tickets for each of these games has not diminished the enjoyment. 

A team for the game would therefore be:

                         Gomes

     Corluka    Gallas    Dawson    Ekotto

Lennon    Huddlestone       Modric       Bale

           Van Der Vaart              Pav

Prediction: Come on You Spurs hold them out and a 2-0 whilst seeing us out would be a tremendous result. Two early goals though…….  

Preparation – what preparation? Real Madrid 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0

I was flabbergasted to see Jenas shaking hands at the start of the game and it took me some time to work out that Lennon was the one who was missing. For me that was when the ceiling started falling in.

Marking for the first goal was a surprise. Surely Dawson has to be the man marking the big man up front? But no Jenas gets the job and is second best. I’ve commented about Jenas being second best in these dead ball situations before but on this occasion it seems harsh to look for him. He had about 1 minutes notice he was playing and within 4 minutes is defending a corner marking someone much better in the air than him. 

For the second goal we were fast asleep, practically snoring as the quick corner caught us out. That left Dawson miles out of position and unable to make up the ground allowing the big fella to out jump Gallas and guide the ball into the corner of the net. Great header but made too easy by us switching off.

And that’s how lessons are learnt. The fact that Schalke scored 5 against Milan shows how we were able to come back, great performance as it was, but against Madrid tonight that was never on the cards – unless we could keep the ball; and we couldn’t!

Don’t get me wrong I love Michael Dawson and apart from those moments I thought he had a fine game but it is those moments that tell you who is going to win and he was too far away from the action.

I was surprised by Peter Crouch. He is an experienced international and used to playing in big games but his cavalier challenges resulted in us once again having an unnecessary up hill climb that was always going to be impossible faced with the quality that Real possess. Totally irresponsible on his part and certainly his worst moments in a Spurs shirt.

Yet at half time had we been able to nick a goal we would have offered some resistance and I felt the change of Defoe for Van Der Vaart was a good one but JD was unable to get into the game and many passes went astray as we approached that area.

Bale had a couple of decent runs up the line but was persistently impeded without much assistance from the referee his best chance hammered into the side netting late in the first half. However the extra man and lack of a winger on the right enabled Real to thwart him quite easily with two or three men in close attendance most of the time.

Was he fit? Probably not match fit but he saw the game out after a batch of cramp and we have to hope he is available on Saturday.

The third goal was the pick of the bunch with a thunderous shot across the box into the roof of the net that was unstoppable. Unfortunately that could not be said for the fourth as it looked like Gomes should have prevented Ronaldo’s shot beating him at his post. 

Gallas looked to be struggling by the end and Corluka also left the field with an ankle injury to cap a bad night.

Disappointed. More than you could know but happy we have made it this far. We all knew it was unlikely we could win it and this result all bar confirms it. Yes it’s not over etc. but with their offensive power it is difficult to see them shut out and hammered in the same match. Many will criticise Harry because it is easy to do. Yet his best laid plans and meticulous preparation went up in smoke as the bell sounded.

The truth is Lennon’s illness and Crouch’s rashness aided Real to a strong offensive performance and they played well and we did not. Modric looked a passenger, easily dispossessed and wasteful in his passing – most unlike him. Defoe saw nothing of the ball in the second half when tiredness from the pressure saw us wasteful in clearing our lines and Van Der Vaart looked sluggish and without the pace to trouble them on his own up front.

Sandro continued his good run and Gomes was pretty good in goal barring the fourth goal.

The best laid plans go to waste and this was one of those occasions. Form wise this game came at the wrong time for us and we paid the learning penalty. An Arsenal fan text me before the end saying “Channel 5 for you boys next season”; he might be right but who were they playing tonight or tomorrow?  

Next week we play mainly for pride at White Hart Lane. If you are disillusioned and want a home for your ticket preferring to see it on ITV1 contact me for I’d love to see the game. 

Come on You Spurs