Goung to the Nou Camp to play Barcelona is a tough ask for any team. Going to the Nou Camp needing a positive result is rabbits-in-the-headlights stuff. For Tottenham Hotspur, that’s exactly what they had to do. A win or a better or equal result in the Nou Camp to that of Inter Milan, who were playing PSV in the San Siro, would see Spurs’ Champions League progression confirmed. They got the result they needed, along with Inter dropping points to only draw with PSV.
Champions League Progression for Spurs Sends Warning to Rivals
“Tottenham are bottlers.” “It’s all too Spursy.” These are sayings that have been fired at Tottenham Hotspur for a long time. If anyone wanted to know the level of accuracy in those statements, all they need to do is to watch Spurs’ performance in the Champions League at the Nou Camp last night. In the second half, Tottenham dominated Barcelona and any rivals looking on would be wise to take note of just how good Spurs were on the night.
Barcelona Missing Messi
Some will point to the fact that Barcelona had no Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi started from the bench, but this was still an experienced and high-quality Barca side playing at home. In the first half, that quality was there for all to see. The passing was sublime and at times it looked as if they had one spare man all of the time.
Although it was an error from Kyle Walker-Peters that led to the goal, it was also the incredible strength and pace of Ousmane Dembele. This was no reserve team that Tottenham Hotspur faced. This was still the real deal. When Messi did make his appearance in the second half, he only had one momentary chance. Other than that he was kept quiet by the tremendous pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
Why Should Rivals Take Note?
Statistics can answer this question. Tottenham had more shots on target, more shots overall and more possession. Yes, more possession than Barcelona. Spurs also made more passes which, against the pass masters themselves, is an incredible feat. Only missed chances stopped Spurs from winning this game. In the end, they could have won at a canter.
Rivals looking on may well point to the Barca absentees but what they should be looking at is just how well Spurs played. Christian Eriksen was sublime, Danny Rose had possibly his best match in a Spurs shirt for 18 months and Dele Alli, as against Leicester, was sensational. His work rate, passing and skill is getting better along with a renewed maturity. Kyle Walker-Peters made an error but after that he could have been playing for years. He is quick, he puts his body on the line and last night surely gave himself every chance of becoming another Pochettino success story.
Vertonghen and Alderweireld were resolute at the back and Son Heung-min just makes you smile with his energy and desire to win games for his club.
Spurs are through to the Champions League knockout stages. Spurs are third in the Premier League just six points off the top. They have some favourable looking games coming up and in general haven’t yet hit top gear consistently in the Premier League. After last nights game Guilem Ballague said:
“This is without any doubt one of the best performances of a foreign team in the Camp Nou for many many years. Struggling to remember a team that was so good in so many ways here.”
That is high praise indeed and well deserved.
If last night was a sign of how good Spurs can be, and it clearly was, rival fans might want to be wary of writing off a team that spent no money in January, has no ground of their own right now and is only just hitting top gear.