UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
ROUND OF 16 (1st leg)
WEDNESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY, 2020
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) RB LEIPZIG 1(0)
Werner (pen), 58
Referee:- Cüneyt Çakir
Assistants:- Bahattin Duran, Tarik Ongun
VAR:- Mete Kalkavan
Assistant VAR:- Abdulkadir Bitigen
Fourth official:- Halil Umut Meler
(All officials from Turkey)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Lo Celso, Winks; Gedson (sub Ndombele, 64), Dele (sub Lamela, 64), Bergwijn; Lucas Moura
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, Tanganga; Dier, Skipp
Booked:- Lo Celso (foul on Sabitzer), Davies (foul on Laimer, conceding penalty), Lamela (foul on Sabitzer)
Leipzig ((3-4-3):- Gulacsi; Klostermann, Ampadu, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Laimer (sub Forsberg, 83), Sabitzer (Capt.), Angelino; Nkunku (sub Haidara, 74), Schick (sub Poulsen, 77), Werner
Subs not used:- Mvogo; Wolf; Olmo, Lookman
Booked:- Sabitzer (foul on Bergwijn), Werner (foul on Winks), Nkunku (foul on Lo Celso)
Toothless Spurs well beaten
Toothless Spurs were outplayed and well beaten by a zippy Leipzig side. Spurs were missing their top scorers (Kane and Son) and Leipzig were missing their ace defender Dayot Upamecano through suspension. The German side had other defender absentees too, but Spurs didn’t get the ball to the front often enough to test a Bundesliga second-placed side who threatened to score from the very start of this game. The only blessing is that the losing scoreline was only 1-0 and that through a needless penalty conceded by Ben Davies who got booked for his trouble. Leipzig’s top scorer Timo Werner made no mistake from the spot. For Spurs the only performances of note were those of Giovani Lo Celso who forced Gulacsi’s one save of note and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who was kept busy from the start and throughout the game.
Spurs’ defence was unchanged from Sunday, but Lo Celso stepped in beside Winks with a front four of Gedson, Dele, Bergwijn and Lucas Moura. Julian Nagelsmann’s men lined up in a 3-4-3 with Klostermann playing a central defensive role, rather than his usual right back position. Nagelsmann’s team is dynamic with many players interchangeable. Captain Sabitzer played a more defensive role (midfielder Tyler Adams was another absentee), whilst ace scorer Werner plays and appears anywhere across the attacking line and often switched wings with Christopher Nkunku. This team is not second in the Bundesliga for nothing, and they are only one point behind the mighty Bayern Munich.
Spurs fans came from far and wide to watch this game (my train back north, heading for Leeds was packed) and almost filled the stadium, but they went home disappointed.
The game was played on the night before Jimmy Greaves’ 80th birthday and representatives of his family were presented with a “Greaves 80” Spurs shirt before the game by Harry Kane, who we are missing so much of course. There was also a half-time montage of the great man who this week was subject to a wonderful BT SPORT documentary film.
The players seemed to be a little late walking out and the kick-off was slightly delayed. Leipzig kicked off and were on the front foot immediately with Schick putting a shot just outside Lloris’s left post within 28 seconds. They came straight back at us from the goal kick with Sabitzer carrying the ball forward, and Mukiele crossing with a low ball from the right. Werner’s shot was blocked by Sanchez, but then Angelino (on loan from Man City) hit the woodwork right of Lloris, who was very soon in action again as he had to save from Werner at close range.
Having weathered that early storm (just) Spurs managed to forge a chance of their own after 7 minutes. Lo Celso pushed a ball to Bergwijn, whose shot across the goalmouth was well saved by Gulacsi with his left hand. The ball fell to Dele, but he pushed his reaction shot wide. Lloris then had to get down to hold another shot by Schick. Lo Celso took an early yellow card for a foul on Sabitzer. Sabitzer himself was shown a card for a foul on Bergwijn. Referee Cüneyt Cakir was going to have no nonsense.
Leipzig had a corner from the left taken by Nkunku and headed wide across the goal by Schick. Lloris was down to hold a shot by Angelino after 18 minutes, but Spurs were very much on the back foot. After 26 minutes, Schick passed out to Angelino who crossed low with Werner just failing to get a touch in the middle of goal. Lo Celso made a great run from deep in his own half following a Leipzig corner on the half-hour. He got all the way to the Leipzig area feeding Bergwijn who won a corner. This was taken by Lo Celso, but Gedson fired high and wide from deep in the area. Hugo Lloris had to save again from Werner after 35 minutes. This shot came from the left of the area after Laimer had fed the German striker.
Gedson curled in a long cross from the right after Alderweireld’s ball, but Dele just could not make contact. Dele won a corner in the one minute of added time, but you could argue that Spurs had done well to keep the score 0-0. At this stage I was thinking that would not have been such a bad result.
Two minutes into the second half Aurier crossed and Lucas Moura might have got a touch on the ball which did need a save by Gulacsi. Aurier was a villain at the other end, conceding a free kick 24 yards out which was fired over by Nkunku. The penalty was conceded after Werner put a ball into the area in front of the advancing Laimer who was brought down by Davies’ tackle. Werner’s powerful spot-kick beat Lloris inside his right post.
Lo Celso had a shot well saved by Gulacsi after Bergwijn had cut the ball back to Gio. Then Hugo made an even better save after a strong Leipzig move started by Nkunku’s central run and culminating in a shot by Schick after passes from Angelino then Werner.
Now it was time for Mourinho to make changes. Dele was caught on camera in a strop when he was replaced by Lamela and Gedson was replaced by Ndombele. Spurs switched to a back three of Sanchez, Alderweireld and Davies with Aurier and Lamela acting as wing-backs and Lo Celso pushed forward alongside Lucas and Bergwijn.
Lo Celso was fouled outside the area and took a great free kick which Gulacsi pushed onto his post. Spurs were at least pushing the German side back, but the visitors were formed up well and defended with strength and confidence. Gulacsi held a cross by Aurier. Bergwijn was fouled and Lo Celso took the free kick, this time from further out, but this one was blocked. Spurs got another free kick, this time for a foul on Lucas Moira. This one was taken by Lamela from 25 yards out and did need a save by Gulacsi, who conceded a corner. Two minutes before time Lucas Moura headed over the goal after a cross by Davies. There were five minutes of added time, but the closest we got was after an Ndombele challenge which led to Winks getting a shot, hit straight to the keeper.
So, we are only halfway through this tie, and it’s never over till it’s over, but those of us travelling to Leipzig in three weeks’ time will do so with no confidence about a result.
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