Juventus vs Spurs – Review and Thoughts

Article by Lachlan Peters in Melbourne

About 32,000 Melbournians came out to the MCG last night to see the second game of the International Champions Cup, with Spurs taking on Juventus. Sat in the middle of the Spurs supporters area this guy was one happy camper, surrounded by like minded yids in blue and white singing the night away on a brisk winter night, it was a brilliant time for an Aussie Spurs fan... Pity about the first half though.

When the team that Tottenham would be bringing ‘down under’ was announced last week, I was a bit sad about the glaring lack of first team players making the trip – but understood that it was necessary in order to be fresh for that game against Everton. A positive case could be made for bringing many of the youth team players to get some good experience against European quality opponents and immerse some of the younger guys in the fanfare of an international tour.

At the open training session on Monday the 500 or so Spurs fans were treated to a very friendly group of players who signed many shirts, balls, posters and took a bunch of selfies. They gave a warm sense of appreciation to the people who had turned up in the rain to watch their team have a kick around. Ledley King was about as well, walking around and getting some photos (he signed my jersey!)

It was great to see Wanyama and Janssen for the first time and seeing what they could before getting on the pitch against Juventus the next night. Surprisingly I could not see Christian Eriksen training and my suspicions that he may not play were confirmed the following evening.

Spurs played a not completely second string line-up at the MCG. Janssen, Wanyama, Son, Chadli, Mason and Carroll all started, but the defence was very fresh aside from Kieran Trippier. Ball, Carter-Vickers and surprisingly Miller (who usually plays an advanced role in midfield when he isn’t playing Oliver Twist) were all brought in as Kevin Wimmer was unavailable, suffering a black eye. The inexperienced nature of these guys proved to be the difference on the night.

The first half was very forgettable from a Spurs point of view. As the blue and white section of the stadium sung out with pride, they were shown a bit of the old wobbly defence Spurs. Dominic Ball failed to control a pass that came back to him in his own half, Pereyra pressured to collect the ball before avoiding a large yet ill-timed slide tackle from Carter-Vickers. He played in Dybala who had ages of time to smash in from around ten yards past a helpless Vorm. Not a great start. Big learning curve for the youngsters.

Before we could get our beanies back on, Juve had doubled the lead. After some truly shambolic defending and a couple of limp attempts to clear the ball from a corner, Benatia rose high to loop a header over Vorm. For the rest of the half it seemed the boys were completely bereft of ideas going forward. Sonny had the best chance when he headed wide by about 20 metres. There was far too much passing backward and it seemed that Michel Vorm had about one hundred more touches that Janssen up front. There were not too many positives to take from that half of football, Wanyama looked good and Janssen was lively but was not given any real chances to shine. The lack of experience in defence seemed to sap the rest of the team and there was no real creativity from some players who might be expected to produce a little more when going forward.

On a concerning note, the lack of depth in the centre of defence now seems like a glaring hole. With Vertonghen injured, only Wimmer and Alderweireld are available. While Dier can cover, it is not a great state of affairs if one of these guys sustains a serious injury. Hopefully someone can be picked up before the season gets underway.

As was always going to be the case, the second half brought with it a whole stack of substitutions; Lamela, Yedlin, Onomah and Winks came on and really made a difference. Spurs looked far more comfortable going forward and Eric Lamela looked miles ahead of everyone else on the pitch. He had donned his obligatory gloves in honour of the Melbourne winter and was doing the Spurs end proud behind the Juventus goal. In the 55th minute Janssen produced a nice bit of holding play before giving it to the Argentine who fizzed a low one from 20 yards out and forcing Netointo a fingertip save. Spurs were looking comfortable and it wouldn’t be too long before they got a goal back. Wanyama snatched the ball from Hernanes who was caught unaware quickly passed off to Lamela who took one touch and sharply finished across Neto and into the corner of the net from 18 yards.

Lamela should have equalised on the 76th minute, he had what seemed to be a lot of space either side of Neto but he used the side of his foot rather than his laces and only found the keeper. After that there were a few half chances for some of the youngsters. Marcus Edwards looked really lively on the ball and later Harrison would almost get one with an outstretched boot but the keeper palmed it wide.

In the end it was a pretty decent second half performance. Winks, Harrison and Edwards all looked impressive. Lamela was great and showing just how important he will be for Spurs in the coming season. Wanyama looked very solid and will definitely prove to be a great purchase, especially considering the work he has already done with Poch at Southampton. Of course we can’t draw too many conclusions from a pre-season friendly with about a quarter of the first team to choose from, but it was great to see Spurs playing again.

On a domestic note, the ICC organisers would have been better to book the games at AAMI Park just next door - a proper football stadium that seats 30,500 and has a rectangular shape rather than an oval. The distance between the fans and the players produced a somewhat dour atmosphere even though the fans were passionate. It would have been a stretch for Spurs and Juventus to pull even half the 100,000-person capacity of the MCG on the coldest night of the year. Story for a different place though.

Well that was part one of the ICC in Melbourne, I’ve been lucky enough to get a few photos with some of the lads and my jersey is looking nice with all these signatures. Can’t wait to get into the rest of the week and see how we go against Atletico on Friday night, or morning for likely most of you reading this. G’day from Melbourne and keep following e-spurs for all the Spurs you need.

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