Spurs 2-4 Barcelona – Champions League Report
Lionel Messi produced a world class performance to help Barcelona overcome a spirited Spurs side 4-2 in the Champions League at Wembley.
The game could not have started any worse for Mauricio Pochettino’s team. After 90 seconds, Messi played a wonderful through ball to Jordi Alba from just inside the Spurs half. The Spanish left back was met by an onrushing Hugo Lloris, who did not need to come all the way out of his goal, and so laid the ball back to Philippe Coutinho.
With no goalkeeper the finish seemed a routine one, but the former Liverpool man still did well to send a crisp shot into the bottom corner. Davinson Sanchez, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld all tried to get in the way but could do nothing to stop Barcelona going into the lead.
Barcelona then asserted their dominance in the match and made the Spurs players chase shadows for large portions of the half. In a rare opportunity for Spurs, Harry Kane had a shot from outside the area which was comfortable for Barcelona goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
Soon after came a moment of brilliance from Ivan Rakitic. After a flowing move, involving another quality Messi through ball, Coutinho had a chance to have a shot. He miskicked it, but somehow managed to swivel round and poke the ball to Rakitic on the edge of the area.
One of the stars for Croatia at the World Cup, Rakitic took the ball on the volley and with both feet off the floor sent an unstoppable effort off the post and into the net. The technique on the strike was outstanding and gave Hugo Lloris no chance.
The only additional action at the other end in the first half was when ter Stegen did well to save after the ball had deflected off one of his defenders and caught him off balance.
However by the end of the first period the Spurs fans were stunned into silence by the brilliance of Barcelona but also some questionable refereeing from German Felix Zwayer.
Lionel Messi shows why he is the best
Does anyone really genuinely think there has ever been a better footballer than Lionel Messi? I mean seriously?
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 3, 2018
As the teams entered the second half, once again Barcelona had a massive chance inside two minutes. This time Sergio Busquets found Messi in acres of space on the right. After demonstrating his incredible passing ability, the 5 time Balon d’Or winner showed his dribbling skills by gliding into the area and effortlessly placing a shot past Lloris. Thankfully for Spurs the shot hit the post and was cleared but the little Argentine showed no sign of letting up.
Yet Spurs had a world class player of their own on the pitch and it was Harry Kane who turned the game on its head with a goal from nowhere. After good work from Erik Lamela, who was playing in a more central position, Kane had the opportunity to take a shot on his left foot. Instead he cut back onto his right, taking Nelson Semedo out of the equation, and whipped his effort past Gerard Pique and ter Stegen to give Spurs a lifeline.
As soon as Spurs were back in it, Barcelona once again took the game away from them. Whereas their second goal showed individual brilliance, their third was a sublime team effort. Rather unsurprisingly it was started and finished by Messi. After taking a pass from Arthur, he found the perpetually overlapping Alba who then sent in a low cross. It was left by Coutinho and then again by Luis Suarez for Messi to guide the ball past Lloris. The Spurs defence could do very little about the goal.
Instead of letting Barcelona dominate the rest of the match, Spurs came back at them and narrowed the deficit again. Heung-min Son, who had a quiet evening, passed to Lamela who had a try from outside the penalty area. His shot took a slight deflection off Clement Lenglet but it was enough to take it out of reach of the helpless ter Stegen. It was Lamela’s first goal for Spurs in the Champions League.
Once again Spurs were just one behind and had a new found confidence. Barcelona had the players to take the sting out of the game but Spurs were relentlessn they constantly hassled and Harry Winks was beginning to have a say in the encounter.
Lamela had the chance to break through the defensive line but was brought down by Sergio Busquets. The experienced holding midfielder knew that he had to take the yellow card to prevent the Spurs attack. Ben Davies was also put through by Kane but was just offside.
Later on Lucas Moura had a great chance to level things for Spurs. He brilliantly dropped his shoulder to deceive two Barcelona defenders but his shot was blocked by the impressive Lenglet. The fourth goal, therefore, was a bitter blow for Spurs as they put everything into the second period.
Jordi Alba beat substitute Moussa Sissoko to the ball and played in Suarez. The Uruguayan again let the ball run leaving Lionel Messi with all the time in the world to pick his spot past Lloris. It was the 22nd goal Messi has scored against an English team in the Champions League.
That strike came in the 89th minute and so settled the tie after a much improved effort from Spurs in the second half. However there was no getting away from the fact that Barcelona deserved the win and Messi was unplayable at times.
Spurs conceded two world class and two very soft goals and have plenty of positives to take into their next game against Cardiff on Saturday.
Spurs are 4th in the Premier League and still not out of their Champions League Group, although it is likely the will need to win 3 of their last 4 group games. That of course is an entirely reasonable expectation, especially with the return of players like Eriksen, Alli and Vertonghen in the coming weeks.
Spurs v Barcelona Lineups
Spurs v Barcelona Attendance
Wembley Stadium: 82,137
Spurs v Barcelona Man of the Match
Without question it was Lionel Messi. From a Spurs perspective however Harry Kane put in a good performance. His hold up play was excellent and he often found himself deeper than Lucas Moura and Heung-min Son to try and receive the ball. His goal demonstrated a man that is close to being back to his best after what was considered by some to be a slow start to the season.
Harry Winks was also impressive. After a slow start he got a grip of the match in the second period and looked confident in possession and assured in his passing. With the mounting injury list, Pochettino will be glad that Winks has found some form as will England manager Gareth Southgate
What the Players and Managers Said
“These are the games you want to be involved in, that you dream of playing in. He (Messi) was unbelievable. When he’s in that form he’s magic to watch. Barcelona were the better team on the night but we’ll take plenty of positives out of it. We’ve got another game around the corner, so we’ll recover and see where we went wrong.” (BBC Sport)
Not the result we wanted but we can take some positives from the second half. Thanks for your support pic.twitter.com/6prtpUOZHK
— Kieran Trippier (@trippier2) October 3, 2018
“To start the game and after a minute-and-a-half to concede was so difficult for the team. If you play football you know that emotion…you plan to play in a certain way and that destroys everything. Then unbelievable, the second time they arrive on 30 minutes, a great goal scored from Rakitic. That was so tough.”
“In the second half the team believed and we competed in a very good way. I’m so proud about that, playing against a team like this with the handicap from the beginning. The team gave everything and if Lucas scored, it’s 3-3 and maybe we are talking in a different way.” (Tottenham Hotspur Official)
“It was a very intensive match. We expected that, but it was more intensive than I’d originally thought. We went ahead early on but they worked so hard. We dominated, played it out from the back and we gave a good performance. We had chances to increase our advantage although they scored two goals and, thankfully, we made it 4-2. We had enough chances to not suffer as much as we did but that’s what it’s like in the Champions League.” (Movistar TV)
What’s next for Spurs
Spurs are back at Wembley on Saturday as they host Cardiff in the Premier League in the last game before the October International break.
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