Friday, August 18, 2017

Tottenham needed a miracle against Real Madrid…They didn’t get one!

Never really believed it

Prior to the game last night there were very few people who thought that Tottenham had any chance whatever of overturning their four goal defecit from the first leg defeat away to Real Madrid. Even manager Harry Redknapp was talking about miracles.

“We know it would take a miracle but miracles can happen. If we play very well you never know.”

Task

The achievement of overturning a 4-0 first leg defeat had never before been done in the competition. The task faced by Tottenham was so great that Redknapp even joked about taking the tie to a penalty shoot-out.

“I’d take penalties, we have been practising.”

The best odds you could get on Tottenham to win 5-0 and take the tie were around 200-1.

Chance

Despite all of that, Tottenham were clinging on to the fact they had fought back from three and four goal defecits earlier in the competition and had seen off both Milan sides. It was a totally outside chance, but a chance none the less.

Redknapp was clear that Tottenham wouldn’t simply throw everything at Real.

“Everyone says we have to attack them but you are playing against world-class players, so you don’t want to keep bombing everyone forward and getting ripped open on the counter-attack. So long as we play well and give it everything we have I can’t ask for anything more. We have to see if we can win the game and see how the game develops.”

Focussed

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho went into the game desperately trying to keep his team focussed on the job in hand.

“We have to respect Tottenham and we have to respect football, because football sometimes can betray you. That is why we are coming here to play seriously. We know the mentality of English stadiums, supporters and teams. They will try everything. I put myself in Harry’s position. If we lost 4-0 here and were going to Madrid I wouldn’t throw the towel in. I would do everything I could to try to bring about a miracle. I don’t think five goals would be enough for Tottenham to beat us because we are coming here to score goals. I will pick the best team, to get the best result possible. We have a job to finish.”

So how did it pan out?

Expected

Well, pretty much as everyone expected it to really. Tottenham huffed and puffed but Real Madrid had too much class for them and ran out deserved 1-0 winners. OK, there may have been a couple of reasonable penalty shouts but they were by no means certain and to point to them would be clutching at straws.

The Real Madrid goal was as soft as they come. It was a half decent strike by Cristiano Ronaldo but I would have fancied saving it myself. I’m afraid that as good as Gomes is at times, he is still far too likely to make a howler to be a top keeper.

Tottenham have no reason to be disappointed as they have had an exceptional and unexpected run in the Champions League. They have given their fans some great nights to remember and the type of games that just a couple of years ago they wouldn’t have dared to dream about.

Tough

They now have a really tough run-in where they face games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City as they try to earn the right to do it all again next season. They have approached the competition with a refreshing attacking attitude and many neutrals will hope that they manage to clinch that fourth place.

Whilst I am, as an Englishman, disappointed that Tottenham have gone out of the Champions League, part of me is pleased that we are all going to see the Real Madrid against Barcelona games that could be so wonderful. There seems little doubt that Barcelona are the better side, but you have to allow for the Mourinho factor. He conjured up a victory against them last year with Inter who were arguably further away from Barcelona than Real are. He has now become the first coach to take four different clubs to the Champions League semi-finals. It would be a brave man to bet against him becoming the first man to win it with three different clubs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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