Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tottenham 3-1 Real Madrid: Five things learned as Spurs tear Real apart

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Tottenham beat Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley in their Champions League group game as Mauricio Pochettino’s men humiliated their Spanish opponents.

A Dele Alli double put Spurs two goals up before Christian Eriksen put the gloss on what was an outstanding performance from the London side. Real Madrid did pull a goal back through Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was not anywhere near enough as the double European champions were sent away from Wembley with their tail between their legs.

With Borussia Dortmund drawing with Apoel Nicosia this evening, it means that Tottenham are now eight points clear of third and safely through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League. For Real Madrid, they are still five points clear of Dortmund in third, but they will feel the pressure building on them after the defeat.

Following Tottenham’s triumph, what five things did we learn from the game?

Wembley hoodoo is banished as Real Madrid are torn apart 

On an evening where many though Spurs had the chance of making history, Tottenham took their chance as they downed the double European champions at Wembley Stadium.

The Spanish side had not lost in five years in the group-stages of the Champions League, but they came up against a Tottenham side that had no time for history, as they made a slice of their own on Wednesday.

Honestly, Tottenham were just the better side on the night as their Spanish opponents failed to really turn up. Considering there was such a massive amount of talk about Tottenham’s apparent ‘Wembley hoodoo’, the London side were able to stroll past their opponents with relative ease.

The win means that no side will fancy themselves against Spurs in the next round as the London side remain unbeaten against Madrid this campaign, drawing 1-1 in Spain and hammering them at Wembley. With the likes of Hary Kane and Dele Alli in fine form this campaign, Tottenham have genuine aspirations of winning the Champions League, and their new-found form at Wembley will be vital.

Tottenham advance in style

Tottenham knew that a victory would give them complete control of the group, while a draw would see them stay at the top, keeping their Champions League dream alive and kicking. However, not content with sharing the points, the London side embarked upon one of the most remarkable 90-minute performances as they dismantled and humiliated Real Madrid.

Borussia Dortmund saw their campaign take yet another body blow as they were held at home by minnows Apoel Nicosia, meaning they have now taken just two points from their four games. This, coupled with Tottenham’s win means that the London side have qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Considering Group H was touted as the group of death, Tottenham’s relative ease with regard to qualifying has displayed just how far the English team has come over the last few years. With two games still to play, Mauricio Pochettino will want to take the maximum points from their matches, as they look to maintain their place at the top of the group.

Dele Alli proves his critics wrong

Dele Alli’s goal displayed the brand of slick football that people have come to expect from Tottenham as they cut Real open.

Indeed, the ball started on one side of the pitch as it was moved quickly and precisely to the other with Real unable to close the ball down. However, on second glance, Kieran Trippier seemed to be offside as he ran to receive the ball. This was not picked up though and it allowed Alli to ghost into the box and slide the ball home.

His second was one aided by a lucky deflection from Sergio Ramos, but he showed his opportunism, as he picked the ball up and drove forward, committing defenders, before striking an effort that wrong-footed Kiko Casilla.

The goals were Alli’s first and second in the Champions League this season in his first appearance in the competition. While he has cast a much-criticised figure in recent weeks, he seemed back to his best in the game as he hustled and harried the opposition, while the creative juices were clearly flowing with good running and intelligent passing.

Following a lean run of form for Alli in recent weeks, Pochettino and his team will be hoping that this performance heralds the return of the sort of form that has made the midfielder one of the hottest properties in world football.

Both sides play out an incredibly open game

For such an important game that could potentially decide the top of the group, the first-half was incredibly open. Alli’s goal seemed to spark something in Madrid as they went at their hosts in attacking fashion.

Indeed, a chance for one side was quickly followed by one for the other. Cristian Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both had good efforts saved by Hugo Lloris, while Harry Kane and co continued to threaten and had a penalty shout turned down as the ball struck Sergio Ramos on the arm in the closing stages of the first-half.

The game was played in the spirit of attacking football and it was refreshing to see the two sides looking to win, rather than to just not lost.

The second-half brought a similar theme as Madrid pressed for an equaliser. Tottenham were happy to soak up the pressure with their compact defence before breaking on their opponents. This led to two more goals for the home side as they took their chance to beat Real with both hands.

Credit must go to the visitors though as they kept looking to go forward despite falling some way off the pace and seeing their star man draw a blank. Considering there have been so many games between top sides that have ended in incredibly dull 0-0 draws, the game between Tottenham and Real was a reminder that the very best teams can play out very entertaining games.

It just wasn’t Real’s night

Gary Lineker was chastised by some on Twitter for claiming that Karim Benzema was overrated, but on his performance on Wednesday, the former-England striker was right. Benzema was awful throughout as he barely threatened, giving Tottenham very few problems in his sorry appearance. Of course, Benzema was not the only star to flop.

Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were very poor on the night as, for once, the occasion seemed to get to them. Modric’s usually busy runs were halted, Kroos’ passing was poor, and it summed up Ronaldo’s evening that, despite scoring,  he blocked Sergio Ramos’ effort on the line.

Modric was for once withdrawn early and Zidane looked to put his faith in the kids. This came too late, but it did display just how poorly their usually so reliable superstars played.

Of course, there will be better nights for Madrid, but this was as embarrassing as it gets. Tottenham were superb throughout the match, but defeats of such a manner will leave a lasting mark on the Spanish side.

Tottenham: Lloris 7 – Alderweireld 7, Sanchez 7, Vertonghen 5 (Sissoko 7) – Trippier 7, Eriksen 8, Dier 8, Winks 7 (Dembele 6), Davies 8 – Alli 9, Kane 7.5 (Llorente 7).

Unused subs: Vorm, Rose, Son Heung-Min, Aurier.

Real Madrid: Casilla 6 – Marcelo 6, Ramos 5, Nacho 5, Hakimi 5 – Casemiro 6, Kroos 5, Modric 5 (Hernandez 5) – Isco 5 (Mayoral 5), Ronaldo 5, Benzema 4 (Asensio 5).

Unused subs: Vallejo, Vasquez, Ceballos Fernandez, Ramos Wade.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir


Benjamin Darvill

Ben is an English and creative writing graduate that is now working his way up in the world of sports journalism. Having been writing for the last four years, Ben has written for a number of websites specialising in sport, with football a particular passion. He is a long-suffering England fan and eternal optimist when it comes to the Three Lions.



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