Tottenham Hotspur showed they are ready to compete in the UEFA Champions League once again.
As if coming out alive of a group with Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid was not enough, the Spurs had to play a tough contest against Juventus in the Round of 16. The first game was on the Allianz Stadium, so not many fans were expecting a positive. But the Spurs delivered a great performance on both ends of the pitch. They came back from an early 0-2 deficit, and escaped with a huge 2-2 draw that leaves them in a good position to reach the quarterfinals.
Several players impressed for Tottenham. Moussa Dembele annulled Miralem Pjanic, Harry Kane bagged his seventh goal of the season, and Davinson Sanchez impressed as a centre-back. But the biggest star in this game was none other than Christian Eriksen. The Danish playmaker not only scored the equaliser in the second half with a stunning free kick, but also controlled the pace of the game and pulled the strings for Tottenham in the final third. Deservedly so, he was one of the best players out there.
It would be surprising if this performance from Eriksen came out of nowhere, but that hasn’t been the case. The Denmark international has been one of the best playmakers in Europe over the past few years, but this season he has taking his game to a whole other level. He is on the same level as world-class names such as Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Mesut Özil. Kane might get most of the praises, but Eriksen’s work has been fundamental for the Spurs over the past 12 or 18 months.
A world-class effort against Juventus leaves Spurs in good position going forward
His performance against Juventus was nothing short of spectacular. The Spurs were down 0-2 after the first 10 minutes and the team looked lost, but as soon as Eriksen began to control the tempo, the Spurs began to improve. Surprisingly, Juventus gave the Dane far too much space to roam in the final meters, and he took advantage of it.
Constantly winning duels against Pjanic and Sami Khedira, Eriksen often appeared looking to put his teammates in a good position to score. He had acres of space, and did not waste time taking advantage of them. Eriksen tested the opposing goalkeeper with a long-range shot towards the end of the first half that forced Gianluigi Buffon to react quickly, and also found Dele Alli near the six-yard box with a lovely through ball, but the England international could not capitalise the opportunity.
Eriksen eventually found the back of the net in the 71st minute, with a free-kick that had an important degree of help from Buffon. It was his second goal in five Champions League matches, but it could end up being key. This 2-2 draw meant that the Spurs need to draw 0-0 or even 1-1, and they would make it to the quarterfinals. And Eriksen had a big role during this first leg.
Dazzling with the National Team as well
Eriksen’s stellar performances have not been limited solely to his games with Tottenham. He has also impressed with the Denmark national team, and in fact, Eriksen carried his country to the 2018 World Cup. During the UEFA World Cup Playoff Round tie against Ireland, Eriksen netted a hat-trick during the team’s 5-1 win in the second half. That result propelled the team to Russia, where they will take on France, Peru, and Australia in Group C.
It’s worth mentioning that Eriksen plays on a different role when featuring for Denmark. With the Spurs he operates as a right winger or even as a deep-lying playmaker, but in Denmark he uses a true n°10 role similar to the one he had with Ajax back in the day. That’s his best spot, and that’s where he feels more comfortable playing.
Some have compared Eriksen to Iniesta. Others have compared him to Michael Laudrup. And while comparisons will always exist, we can’t deny how important he is for both his club and country. His stellar effort against Juventus further solidified what we already know about him, though. He is a world-class playmaker, and right now he is among the very best in the world.
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