Five things we learnt from Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 RB Leipzig
It was a night to forget as a dominant Leipzig side put Tottenham to the sword. The Germans attacked from the word go as Spurs struggled to impose themselves on the opposition.
Hugo Lloris kept his side in it with a string of excellent saves and was only beaten in the second half, courtesy of a Timo Werner penalty.
Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso impressed in attack while Davinson Sanchez put up a good defensive display. Spurs lacked tooth in the attack in the absence of Harry Kane and Heun-Min Son, with the best opportunities coming via the set-pieces taken by Lo Celso and Erik Lamela.
Ultimately, it turned out to be a disappointing night. But at just 1-0, the tie still remains open and we will have the chance to set the record straight when we meet them in Leipzig on the 10th of March.
We take a look at five things we learned from Tottenham’s display.
1. Lloris is the undisputed No.1 at Tottenham
Hugo Lloris put in a masterclass display in goal. The 33-year-old proved to be an able last line of defence as he thwarted one Leipzig attack after another. He denied Germany’s star striker Timo Werner numerous times as the superstar showcased his undeniable quality.
He smartly deflected Angelino’s shot off the post while positioning himself well to thwart Patrick Schick from a good position in the second half. In the end, it took a penalty to beat him as Werner broke his duck for the night. Leipzig could have finished off the tie in the first half and if we do progress, we have our captain to thank for keeping us in the tie.
2. Striking woes
Tottenham had coped reasonably well in the absence of Harry Kane. Heung-Min Son had found himself among the goals in the striker’s absence as he carried the Spurs attack admirably.
The South Korean’s injury could not have come at a worse time for Jose Mourinho. Without our best two attackers, Spurs looked listless in the attack and lacked inspiration up front. Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura tried their best, but their lack of killer instinct was visible.
Moura had a decent chance late on but could not redirect his header towards goal. A striker would have shown more awareness in such a situation and could have done better than the Brazilian. Tottenham did not sign a striker in January and from this showing, it looks like it will come back to bite us.
3. Lack of re-invention
It was a typical Mourinho display. Spurs sat back when the Germans had the ball in what looked like a rigid 4-4-2. However, neither did we look like we had a system of play nor did we offer a threat on the counter.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side was hungry, showed more cohesiveness and seemed to know what they were doing. The Germans looked like a team while Spurs seemed more like a group of individuals.
It can be argued that Spurs were without some of their best players, but it is also up to the manager to get the best out of the players at his disposal. By playing a 4-4-2 with no specialist strikers upfront, there was a lack of cohesion between the midfield and the attack. Mourinho is one of the game’s greatest coaches but at times, his pragmatic approach does little to overcome opposition with a clear philosophy and style.
4. Individual displays rekindle hope
In a night of few positives, some players did indeed step up and perform when needed.
Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez were the best of Tottenham’s outfield players. Bergwijn looked unfazed on his Champions League debut for Spurs and showed intent.
Bergwijn and Lo Celso formed the crux of the team’s creativity as any significant Tottenham attack seemed to pass through them. The Argentine not only completed most of his take-ons but also had a brilliant freekick saved by Peter Gulacsi in the second half. The duo looked up for it and has been performing consistently of late.
At the other end, Davinson Sanchez put in a fine shift as he gave one of his best performances in a Tottenham shirt. He made a number of crucial blocks and tackles against Werner and Schick as Leipzig threatened time and time again.
5) There is still hope
It is fair to say that Leipzig were comfortably the better team. But a spate of good individual performances will have given Tottenham some hope. If Mourinho can come up with the right system, Spurs still have the players who can cause Leipzig a lot of trouble.
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Lo Celso’s display proved that Spurs will be better off centering the team around the Argentine as he continues to impress. The likes of Dele Alli had a horrible night and should be up for it next time to make amends. Thanks to Lloris, we are just a goal down and as Lucas Moura showcased at Ajax, we are capable of turning a tie around.