Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte explains reason behind nine changes in defeat vs NS Mura
Spurs had an absolute shocker of a result on the night as they were defeated 2-1 by the Slovenian side. We needed a win on the night to ensure qualification to the knockout stages, but a lacklustre display and a red card for Ryan Sessegnon put the entire plan in the dumpster.
However, Conte made nine changes to the side that won against Leeds United on the weekend. Before the game, he explained the reason behind the changes and the need to secure a victory.
He told BT Sport before the game (h/t football.london):
“I think this is the best selection. We need to win and today we have a good opportunity and also a good opportunity for me to see players that have never played with me. This is very important.
“I have just arrived. As I said in the last press conference, I need to make my evaluations of every single player. For this reason, tonight is also a good opportunity for me to see players who have never played.”
The defeat meant that we would now have to defeat Rennes two weeks from now if we hope to stay alive in the inaugural edition of the UECL.
Conte was let down by his fringe stars
It is crucial to understand the reasons behind the nine changes. The Italian boss has been at N17 for less than a month and he has had to learn about his new squad during that time. There was very little time for him to evaluate the strength of the entire team as several players left for international duty during the 14-day break.
A game against a side that is currently 5th in the Slovenian league should have been easy work. Our fringe stars are more than competent of whitewashing such opponents, or so we thought. Tanguy Ndombele did not look comfortable in central midfield, while it does not look like Dele Alli is ever going to play in the same way as he did under Mauricio Pochettino anytime soon.
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It was a dreadful display by all of the nine players. Although one might argue that the red card changed the game, we still had the majority of the possession and failed to create chances. There is no hiding from this, and we need to respond on Sunday against Burnley.
The best way to prepare for the game against Rennes is to put in decent performances before that and create some momentum to carry into the decisive fixture. As for Conte, he should ensure that he picks a strong lineup for that game because while UECL may be a third-tier UEFA competition, it is still a major trophy up for grabs this season.