Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Who saw Tottenham’s performance on Tuesday night coming? Who? Certainly not me! I spent an entire blog post belittling Spurs before their match against Arsenal last weekend, AND their Champions League match against Juventus this week (you can catch that post here). Little did I know how truly resilient Spurs can be.
I had to eat my own words after they completely outclassed Arsenal on Saturday, and now, I have to do the same thing again after their breathtaking performance on Tuesday night. Before this game, even before the week began, I was so sure that Spurs had no chance against the Italian side. On such a big stage? Pshhhh! There was no way they were going to hack it (I have to admit that some of the negativity stemmed from them beating us on Saturday). Boy, was I wrong! And, boy, was I glad to be so wrong.
For me, the match was not only entertaining, dramatic, and full-blown intellectual (the way Spurs was passing that ball was just incredible), it showed a different class to Tottenham. These boys are poised, organized, confident, mature even, and all this is evident in that amazing comeback from 2 goals down to a draw. This has not happened at the Juve Stadium since 2011, and for Tottenham (of all the teams) to be able to do that was just mind-blowing!
When Higuain scored the first goal (in the 2nd minute, mind you), I was like ‘Here comes the bloodbath!’, and then he scored the second goal, and for me, that game was over before Spurs could even blink. Two goals in less than 10 minutes of the first half of the first leg of the knockout stage of the Champions League, Tottenham was clearly way out of its depth here! To make it worse, they are the underdogs, they have less experience compared to Juventus across all competitions, Juventus have Buffon who is a matchmaker on his own, and Juve’s defense (BBC) was until most recently considered unbeatable, absolutely impenetrable! Talk about having all the odds stacked against Tottenham.
And yet, Spurs continued to play their hearts out. They kept attacking and they kept coming, and Juventus kept making mistakes. Higuain had two amazing opportunities to widen the score in the first half, one of them being a penalty that he missed right before halftime. Can you believe that? He and Mandzukic also missed seemingly straightforward goals in the early minutes of the second half. What were they thinking?
A special shout out to Kane for being so unafraid in front of goal. Did you see his goal? Did you see how he drew Buffon in, then darted from him, leaving the veteran goalkeeper completely floored, and then striking the ball into the net with his left foot? He did it so unassumingly, you wouldn’t believe that he had just done that to THE Gianluigi Buffon! I mean the cheek of it all!
That goal was special; that goal was the first goal that Juventus have conceded in 2018! That goal, along with the Eriksen one, could shove Buffon into retirement, people! There are already calls for the legendary goalkeeper to pack up his gloves and leave after his ‘not so good’ performance against Tottenham on Tuesday.
Personally, I do not think Buffon was solely to blame for the calamity that befell Juve this Tuesday. Tottenham ARE that good, and it was wrong for so many of us (I’m pointing at myself here) to under-estimate them!
And the beauty of this match was how every Tottenham player contributed immensely to that successful comeback. I’m talking about the likes of Dembele, who hands down, controlled that mid-field and single-handedly set the tempo for that entire game. He made incredible passes forward, he stole the ball, he dribbled, he tackled, he created chances, restarting lost ones, and he linked well with the others. He..was..UNSTOPPABLE!
Dele Alli was also quite impressive, mainly because he was absolutely instrumental in both goals. His possession was not as clear-cut as fans would have hoped, but, for me, he showed a bit more maturity than usual (in other words, I’m glad I’m not spending my post-Valentine’s day calling him out on his diving antics again).
The Spurs’ defense was a bit shaky from the start, but I liked how Sanchez continued to remain calm even with all the pressure. I feel like Tottenham fans are making too much unnecessary noise about Sanchez here. He’s been good so far, give the boy a chance (as I secretly hope he is your weak link and causes you to tumble out of the running for the top four spot in the EPL #COYG)!
One Tottenham player who will not be happy with his performance on Tuesday night is Serge Aurier. It was just a bad night for him, although, it is turning out to be a series of bad nights for him. Free loan transfer, anyone?
But that was a beautiful game, a wonderful show of sportsmanship, and I CANNOT WAIT for the return leg. It is going to be absolutely awesome, and I cannot believe that I am saying this, but I really hope Tottenham go through. Chances are they will, but this is football, and I know Juve will put up a strong fight! Good luck to both teams!!