Spurs v Real Madrid - Play The Man, Not The Shirt!
Play the Man not the shirt! …and can we have our Dele Alli back!
In many respects this second game at Wembley against Real will be even harder than the first game as Zidane is a bit of a wounded Tiger at the moment. Real Madrid arrive with the worst start to a league season since 2012-13 - they have picked up just 20 points in 10 games and are eight behind leaders Barcelona. The last time they started this badly the team won nothing and Mourinho lost his job. Poch may have missed Harry but Real Madrid are wondering what has happened to Cristiano Ronaldo`s form. They are also missing Dani Carvajal and Keylor Navas and the out of sorts Marcelo and Karim Benzema. Apparently, Zidane had to field questions regarding the players commitment after their defeat by Girona on Sunday but rumour has it it`s the Spanish league that is failing to motivate them this season.
Real`s lack of concentration could well be an area that Spurs could benefit from. Just as we have been guilty over the last two games of sloppy play letting stupid goals in so Zidane has pointed to a lack of concentration in key moments. Zidane tried to introduce some pace against Girona in wide areas with Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez but it simply didn't work on Sunday and the good news for Poch is that Girona played the same wing-backs system Spurs played at the Bernabeu.
However, Zidane will know our tactics and so our defence will have to show the highest levels of understanding and concentration. The stats don`t lie; Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 30 Champions League group games (W22 D8), their last defeat was back in October 2012 away against Dortmund. Real have failed to score only once in their last 53 Champions League group games (Paris SG 0-0 Real Madrid in October 2015).
Losing to a Lukaku header would have been one thing but losing to a long ball over the top is something else. Whilst we never really ever showed much invention in front of goal we did match United in almost every department except the most vital one, scoring! And some of the issues we had against United need to be ironed out before Wednesdays match. Chances will be very rare in front of the Real goal on Wednesday night so we can`t afford missing the kind of opportunities that Dele Alli squandered on Saturday.
The plain truth is we don`t have a striker that can make things happen the way Harry does and this is something Poch has to address. Llorente has the potential but he needs a system that plays to his strengths rather than slotting into a team that is built around Kane. Although losing on Wednesday night won`t really dent our European campaign it would be 3 defeats on the trot, something Poch would not want to have happen. A win at Wembley against Real would secure us a place in the knockout stages, should Borussia Dortmund and APOEL draw in their fixture, but, I can`t see Dortmund drawing at home, however, if we draw against Real then a draw in Germany would be enough to see us through.
It is unlikely Poch will pick the same team that played in the first leg at the Bernabéu because Dele Alli is back. Although Kane looks like he will make it, if Kane can`t make it, it could be Alli supporting Llorente. It was a good formula in the first tie and it worked, just! but the concentration levels have to be every bit as high as they were in Madrid. This may be a home tie but it`s more of an even venue for both clubs than if this game was at White Hart Lane where the atmosphere would have been more intense and the ground less familiar and smaller.
There is news of Isco picking up a knock which will no doubt worry Real, who could be without Mateo Kovacic, Dani Carvajal, Keylor Navas, Raphael Varane. But with the depth of squad Real have it`s a bit like the United game where the depth of quality on the bench is far greater than ours. The fact that we are competing on the same level as Real and United is testimony to Poch`s coaching ability. We are 3 times smaller financially than United and Real but we are still able to compete and hold our own.
This game will require a mighty effort and you have to say that if we concede the first goal it will be a long evening so it`s really important to strike first. Whatever the score it`s going to be a tight game with maybe 1 goal in it. You have to say with Kane in the team we stand a chance but without him we may not have that ability to bury the odd lose ball or pick up on that one defensive mistake that can turn a game. Its small margins but, as Harry showed in the first leg, he was in the right place at the right time and created the unforced error that gave us the lead.
Eriksen and Alli only showed glimpses of what they should be able to do against United, their telepathy and movement will be required on Wednesday if we are to produce any kind of threat. Whilst Dembele could have a say in this game he is still out of nick and not really up to match sharpness. I also think he has lost a yard and the one thing we can`t afford to do is lose the ball and have our attacking moves breakdown as Ronny will be living off the shoulder of our defence, give Ronaldo just a chink of light he will kill us so we had better not switch off like we did at United!