April 7, 2011
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Firstly a few general points on how the game went:
- It was unfortunate that Lennon dropped out, although if he had been ill since Sunday it’s rather odd that we didn’t have a better Plan B in mind – Redknapp brought in the wrong player in my opinion, not helped by the fact that we had limited options (I’ve long said that Walker, Townsend, O’Hara, Bentley needn’t all be out on loan).
- Having made Jenas the replacement, he could have kept the other midfield players in their normal positions and asked Jenas to get up the right flank as much as possible to force Marcelo back. Instead, we ended up with Bale wasted on the right for the first quarter of an hour or so, and Modric towards the left.
- Crouch’s sending off was annoying in so many ways. Firstly, what was he going to achieve, at best, from the first tackle? Possibly a throw-in if it had taken a ricochet, but more likely it would be a Real Madrid throw-in. Having got that ridiculous booking, he was walking the tightrope, but all he needed to do was play sensibly.
- After Crouch was sent off, we kept firing long balls for Bale to challenge for in the air. Firstly, he is good in the air, but not great. And secondly, he’s just been out for a long spell with a bad back – surely this is not going to be particularly helpful to him?
- Bringing Defoe on was pointless; he’s in bad form, has not got a good history of playing the lone striker role and, regardless of these, we didn’t play to any of his strengths.
- Even at 2-0, we were in the tie, but Redknapp was not pro-active. We needed to keep the ball better, and also to use players that could score from nothing to at least attempt to nab an away goal – he perhaps should have brought on either Pavlyuchenko or Kranjcar for Jenas, Modric or Sandro.
- When Corluka went off injured, Redknapp once again made a substitution which required a further positional change. Why not just use Jenas at right back and bring on a more attacking player?
Real Madrid win a corner, and Spurs have six defenders against five attacking players.
Gallas has Khedira.
Corluka has Ronaldo.
Dawson has Ramos.
Sandro has Pepe.
Jenas inexplicably has Adebayor.
And Crouch has – the near post area?
So instead of asking one of our bigger players to mark their greatest threat, we waste Crouch by asking him to mark space. I look mainly towards Dawson here – as the captain he should have got us organised.
The ball is decent enough, and Adebayor gets up easily above Jenas to head downwards.
Jenas tries to make it difficult for him, but it’s a total mismatch.
Even then, I’d guess that Modric would clear this off the line 7 or 8 times out of 10. However, he gets his feet in a mess, and it goes in off his ankle.
Having defended the next fifty-odd minutes reasonably well, we make a schoolboy error and react slowly to a short corner.
Marcelo receives the ball from Ronaldo and, whilst Jenas does his best to close him, he does not get tight enough to stop the ball coming in. Notice at this point that Gallas and Sandro are picking up Adebayor and Khedira in the box, whilst Dawson has rather bizarrely positioned himself behind Assou-Ekotto at the back post.
In fairness to Dawson, this shot shows why – there is a runner from deep who he has one eye on. Still, I personally think that he should be a lot closer to Adebayor than he is.
As Marcelo crosses, Sandro is ball-watching and neither he or Gallas are touch tight to their men.
Adebayor really attacks the ball, whilst Gallas is left flat-footed and rooted to the spot – he has not read the situation at all well.
This shot shows just how poorly adjusted he is. Whether his injury was holding him back we’ll never know.
It’s a fantastic header from Adebayor, right into the corner beyond Gomes, but so easy for him under no pressure.
The third goal was the real killer blow, and the only goal of the game which we probably could not have done much more about.
We are fairly well set to defend this move, with plenty of men back, and only one attacking player near the box.
As the ball is played out to di Maria, we have three players around him.
Assou-Ekotto could certainly be tighter, but di Maria has a lot to do from here as he steps inside.
The finish is sublime – powerful, accurate, and well beyond Gomes’ reach.
As mentioned earlier, I was quite baffled by the Bassong for Corluka switch, and this goal partially explains why.
As Kaka weaves his way into space in the box, we have plenty of defenders in the box. Dawson has taken up a decent position, but Bassong seems to be caught in two minds. He’s neither marking his man…
…nor marking Ronaldo. When the cross comes in, Ronaldo has plenty of space to watch it into his path, and drill a shot on target.
That said, this should be a routine save for Gomes at his near post. He’s slightly unsighted, but it’s not even in the corner.
He gets it horribly wrong, and we find ourselves with a mountain to climb.
A generally poor performance, not helped by Crouch’s idiotic dismissal. Many of our big players underperformed – particularly Gallas, Modric, van der Vaart – meaning that we struggled to keep the ball. Instead we relied on Bale to beat two or three men at a time and, in fairness to him, he put in a decent shift and was a menace. In fact, Ramos should have been at least yellow-carded, which would have kept him out of the second leg. We have left ourselves a real mountain to climbin the second leg, and it will be interesting to see how Redknapp approaches the game in terms of personnel.