Tottenham show they are on the cusp of Europe’s elite

Michael Djordjieski Roar Rookie

By Michael Djordjieski, Michael Djordjieski is a Roar Rookie

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    Despite an abysmal start to their Champions League encounter, which saw Juventus up 2-0 inside the opening ten minutes, Tottenham retaliated brilliantly to fight back and gain a 2-2 draw in Turin.

    Mauricio Pochettino’s men will take this prideful stalemate back to Wembley Stadium in three weeks’ time for the second leg, with the advantage of scoring two away goals – a rare achievement when teams travel to the Allianz Stadium.

    Gonzalo Higuain scored a nine-minute brace to start Juve on the front foot before Harry Kane pulled a goal back ten minutes heading into halftime, and Christian Eriksen completed the comeback with a free-kick midway through the second half.

    Mousa Dembele was immense in midfield, displaying his physicality, technical ability and excellent passing, while Eriksen was at the forefront of most Spurs attacks, creating opportunities and getting himself on the scoresheet.

    Overall, Tottenham will be thrilled to take a draw back to London.

    It could even be argued Spurs deserved victory given their terrific showing after a horrible first 10 minutes. They had to deal with an atmosphere that epitomised what being in the knockout stages of the Champions League is all about, and there were signs of their 4-0 loss to Real Madrid in the 2011 quarter-finals.

    But there are differences between that side, under Harry Redknapp, and the Spurs team that has been under Pochettino’s eye for the past three-and-a-half seasons.

    Although Tottenham have not reached the quarter-final stage since Redknapp was in charge, Pochettino has got this team into Europe in back-to-back seasons by finishing third and second in last two league campaigns respectively, something Redknapp was unable to accomplish.

    Although the Argentine manager has no trophies to show off during his reign at the helm, the club has undoubtedly progressed.

    Tottenham silenced the Turin faithful thanks to a brilliant team showing.

    Juve’s home form this season has been immense, losing only one home game and, more impressively, not conceding a goal in 2018. For Tottenham to go there and put in the stellar performance they did only further demonstrated their rise against Europe’s elite.

    Spurs have played some excellent football against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and now Juventus in the last two weeks. It really is the English team’s tie to lose when the sides meet again.

    A full house at Wembley will add drive to knock out a team that has reached the final twice in the last three seasons.

    The exterior of Wembley Stadium, in the sun

    Wembley. (Image supplied)

    The visitors will be more aggressive, given they are behind on the away-goals rule, so must find the back of the net.

    Pochettino definitely won the tactical battle, exposing Allegri’s compact set-up, virtually ensuring changes ahead of the return fixture.

    Does the former Southampton manager choose Heung Min-Son to start the second leg ahead of Erik Lamela? Will Blaise Matuidi be back in time for Allegri’s team in midfield?

    Regardless, Tottenham have shown this season that they can compete against the world’s elite.

    To outplay and outwit one of the best teams in the world really shows just how far Spurs have come, especially considering how they performed the previous campaign.

    Last season they fell at the first hurdle, finishing third in a group that contained first-placed Monaco, second Bayer Leverkusen and bottom CSKA Moscow.

    Their elimination from the group was even more disappointing. The team had been placed into the Europa League round of 32 against Belgian outfit KAA Gent, and lost 3-2 on aggregate. It hinted that the pressure of playing at Wembley – due to their new ground currently undergoing construction – was overwhelming the players.

    However, this campaign the narrative flipped, as Spurs finished top of the group ahead of Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL. To go the whole group campaign undefeated and finish top ahead of Madrid and Dortmund, who have vast European experience, is a great triumph.

    Recording a 3-1 win over a team like Madrid, who have won three of the past four Champions League trophies, at a packed Wembley Stadium showed that Spurs belong at this level.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • February 16th 2018 @ 3:24am
      Brian said | February 16th 2018 @ 3:24am | ! Report

      Please!

      The team has made fantastic improvements and has won some big games. The manager has a great reputation. The CL has added vital income and prestige. Coming 3rd and 2nd has shown we are not a flash in the pan. That’s that done, let’s park it.

      We have not won anything for a long while. We have never won the CL or European Cup as was. We won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 and two UEFA Cups (1972 and 1984). The last trophy was the League Cup ten years ago.

      Trophies matter and the big trophies matter more. The trophies that really matter are the PL and the CL. Spurs last won the top flight division (as it was) in 1961.

      Now, having stated all that, an FA Cup would be welcome, a Europa League Trophy even more so.

      In years to come no one will remember that we had a good team and they won some great games if they do not win trophies. I remember the Double team. They were amongst the elite, but not quite good enough to win the European Cup. How well remembered would they be now if they had not won the trophies they did? Elite teams are remembered. Elite teams win trophies – and not just as one-offs. It was fantastic for Leicester to win the PL. Wold you consider them elite? If not, how do Spurs make that bracket with no PL trophy in the cabinet?

      Let’s not talk about being elite without a trophy to our name for ten years.

      > Regardless, this result proved Tottenham are among the best in world football.

      No it doesn’t. It shows a good performance on the day. Let’s get a CL or even a Europa League trophy before making statements like that.

      Not winning trophies would make the team the Lamela of the competitions. No end product.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 12:38pm
        Kangajets said | February 16th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

        Budget wise . Spurs are punching above their weight . Spurs do not pay the wages to players that city united psg Madrid or Barcelona can .

        Money is everything in Europe .

        As for my own team , United are second but hanging on by a thread with some very bland football.

      • February 16th 2018 @ 4:17pm
        Bolt1493 said | February 16th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        +1 – You are elite when you can regularly win your home league (say 33-60% of the time) and get to at least the quarters but preferably the semis & Final of the CL – with the odd win thrown in. Dortmund got close(ish) for 2 seasons recently but could not sustain it. Sevilla and Atletico or Torino & Roma – not quite there. Very few teams in Europe can manage that and Spurs are not one of them. Given their financial situation vis a vis the rest of the EPL, it would be a difficult proposition for them ever to make it without an Oil or Russki sugar daddy.

    • February 16th 2018 @ 3:02pm
      DH said | February 16th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

      Spurs have gone about it in a very sustainable way.

      I’m sure Kane and Alli are on big coin, but it would be a lot bigger if they were bought as 23 yr olds. When they sold Bale (who was their whole team in that season) they spent a lot of money on new mostly younger players, a few of them haven’t paid off, but enough of them did that they’ve now replaced the one-man-band with a team worthy of European success. I doubt they have the depth to maintain a CL Cup win as well as maintaining performance in the League though. I guess the money can only go so far.

      If they can take this form into their new stadium when it’s complete and continue to draw big crowds and bring in more money, they’ll be a club to contend with for a long time.

    • February 17th 2018 @ 9:10pm
      shirtpants said | February 17th 2018 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

      I don’t think there are too many “elite teams” at present. Clearly, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are the standard. They’re the most successful in terms of winning the best leagues regularly as well as competing in the latter stages of the champions league.

      I’d class Tottenham as on the cusp of elite in the premier league, and I’d have Manchester City and Chelsea as the only “elite teams” if we’re just looking at the EPL, but it’ll probably take another 3-5 years of sustained success to break into the top bracket, but I’d suspect their team will be ripped apart very shortly. Only for so long will Ali, Kane et al be willing to settle for sub par wages, while other teams continue to outspend themselves with every signing.

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