Last year August, Borussia Dortmund made the bargain signing of Jadon Sancho, arriving from Manchester City for £8 million.
The English teenage winger has since excelled in Germany and has played his team’s two opening Champions League games to date. He also received an England call-up thanks to his recent form with the German outfit.
Sancho’s statistics indicate that he is an industrious winger and replicates the work of teammate Marco Reus. Sancho has registered 7 assists in all competitions, along with completing 1.7 key passes per game. He doesn’t take on many dribbles per game, taking on 1.3 per game and only completing half of those he takes on. Showing that he fits into a more well drilled passing team.
He doesn’t take as many shots either and this reflects poorly on his attacking contributions. As Sancho notched in 12 goals in 18 games during his time with the Man City U18’s. With further growth and more game time, I’m sure that Jadon Sancho will establish himself as a world class player.
Messi made all the difference is what the narrative will be. And to be fair, that’s not far from the truth. Scoring twice and hitting the post twice, Spurs just had no answer for the mercurial Argentine.
That said, to be critical, this defeat falls squarely on the shoulders of returning skipper Hugo Lloris and his individual errors which cost Spurs the game.
For the first Barca goal, Lloris inexplicably ran out towards the ball and was left completely out of position as Philppe Countinho stroked the ball into an empty net.
And then in the 89th as Spurs were chasing an equaliser, Lloris – instead of pumping the ball downfield, elected to play from the back, Spurs lost possession and Messi was given the easiest task of sealing the victory.
Sure, Spurs fought back with goals from Harry Kane and Erik Lamela, but you never felt that Barca’s dominance was ever seriously under threat.
Spurs really suffered from the absence of key players and in central midfield Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama were just not good enough to impose themselves on Barca and the Catalan midfielders had the run of the park.
Which agains questions why Spurs did not strengthen their squad during the transfer window as the replacements for Moussa Dembele were found wanting.
Worse still for Spurs, Inter Milan won at Eindoven and now that last minute defeat at the San Siro looks particularly ominous, with Spurs now six points off the pace.
Now eliminated from the knockout yet but it will get increasingly difficult.
With 85 minutes to go, Spurs were cruising to a memorable win at the San Siro Stadium in their first game of the Champions League campaign.
Christian Eriksen had given Spurs a precious lead early in the 2nd half – deservedly, over the balance of play up to then – even if there was an element of good fortune in the finish.
After that goal, Spurs looked likely to extend their lead and bring home the points but then disaster struck.
With Serge Aurier nowhere to be seen, left back Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross pulled back to the edge of the box where the unmarked Mauro Icardi scored with his first shot of the game. Jan Vertonghen failed to get his body in the way and the ball flew past Michel Vorm into the bottom corner.
From then on, confidence palpably drained from the Spurs players and rather inevitably, from a corner, Matias Vecino – from a free header – won the game for Inter in the 2nd minute of injury time. Again, sloppy defending at a set piece had cost Spurs dear.
Even though the media will focus on the absence of Kieron Trippier and Toby Alderweireld or the match fitness of Harry Kane – who missed a glorious chance in the 1st half – and taunt Spurs for “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” and all that nonsense, there were positives.
Despite a poor tentative first half, Spurs dominated for long periods of the second half and certainly looked good for the three points. In fact, it looked odds on that despite playing badly, Spurs were going to win and to win ugly. However, once again, they paid the price for two glaring weaknesses.
One, the lack of a clinical finish to the chances they created and two, an awful inability to defend set pieces.
Now, I do not believe that the omissions were crucial, Trippier or Alderweireld would not have done any better than Aurier or Sanchez but there are certainly question marks over the usually dependable Vertonghen who has not been able to recapture the form that made him the player of last season.
Overall, Spurs were better than Inter but lost the match due to defensive lapses and a failure to manage the match when time was running out for Inter.
After winning the first three games of the season, Spurs have gone on to lose the last three. One imagines the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino would be immense at the moment but he did predict that this would be his toughest season and I believe that he will fix the weaknesses highlighted above sooner than later.
Is this the best time for Spurs to begin its Champions League campaign? Or the worst?
After two straight Premier League defeats, Spurs take on recovering Italian giants Inter Milan at the famous San Siro stadium knowing that another defeat will signal a mini-crisis of sorts.
Inter themselves are not in the best of form – winning only one of their opening 4 games – and so this is definitely a match neither side would want to lose.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has already made a decision to rest Kieron Trippier and Toby Alderweireld for this tie, and with Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko all injured, the lineup might look like this.
Spurs have been drawn in Group B along with well-known European clubs like Barcelona (Spain), PSV Eindoven (Netherlands) and Inter Milan (Italy). Certainly, a challenging prospect for Pochettino and the team but definitely memorable ties are on the way.