Category: Champions League

Tottenham: Toby Alderweireld to Miss Bayer Leverkusen Clash 

When Toby Alderweireld took a knock two weeks ago, he probably didn’t expect the incident to have such a drastic impact on his immediate future. However, it looks like his situation has gone from bad to worse, and is likely to affect soccer lines for his club and country.

Toby is hardly the most replaceable of players in the league. If you haven’t heard of him, then you probably haven’t seen Tottenham play because Toby is an integral part of that team; and the fact that he might be sidelined for quite a while should worry Tottenham fans.

The knock itself didn’t look too serious at the time. Toby sustained it during the game against West Brom a fortnight ago, and it soon evolved into a much larger problem. Tottenham drew 1-1 against West Brom that day.

There was no reason to believe that Toby wouldn’t be back in action soon after, especially if he immediately partook in the necessary rehabilitation activities. However, ever since the West Brom game, Toby hasn’t played a game with Tottenham.

And it would be easy to brush that fact aside as some unexplainable anomaly, except that Toby hasn’t even made an appearance in ball training since sustaining his injury. That is the sort of news that fans should panic about because it means that Toby’s injuries are far more serious than expected.

For all intent and purpose, it looks like Toby is set to miss the Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen; and if you didn’t know, that is one of Tottenham’s more important games in the near future.

Tottenham cannot afford to go into the game without Toby, not in their present state, and yet it seems like they will have little choice in the matter. And if that wasn’t enough, the chances of Toby making an appearance for the North London Derby are extremely low, which is another blow for Tottenham fans.

Toby is probably prioritizing recovery from his knee injury at the moment, though the impact of his absence on his team cannot be lost on him. After all, Tottenham has failed to win a game ever since he sustained his injury.

So clearly Tottenham cannot do without him; their German opponents are going to pose an especially difficult challenge on WednesdayNight. And no Tottenham fan has much hope for a positive outcome.

It should also be noted that the former Southampton Center Back is unlikely to recover in time to participate in Belgium’s upcoming international games either; some fans are holding onto hope that November 6th might find Toby fit and ready for the game against Arsenal.

That hope is born from the fact that Tottenham hasn’t officially ruled him out for the game; however, that doesn’t mean much. No one expects Toby to be available for the game.

At the moment Toby can take comfort in the fact that his scans came back revealing no ligament damage; however, he could have damaged a nerve.

Toby is currently one of the EPL’s best defenders and he has proven as much ever since he left Atletico for Spurs in 2015. The absence of star striker Harry Kane (ankle injury) has already debilitated the team’s offense, and stand-in Striker Vincent Janssen is hardly an adequate replacement.

Toby’s absence will be sorely felt.

Leicester City’s Successful European Debut

 Leicester City, the unlikely champions of England last season, have continued their fairytale by marking a Champions League debut with three convincing group stage wins. They share a group with Belgian champions Club Brugge KV, Danish champions FC København, and FC Porto who finished 3rd in Portugal. Having begun by grabbing a 3-0 victory away in Bruges, two 1-0 home victories followed against Porto and København, the latter during the week.

The opening win away in Bruges, possibly the most convincing of the three, saw an early goal from Marc Albrighton coupled by two from Riyad Mahrez either side of half time. Leicester came into the match following at 4-1 defeat away at Liverpool. Manager Claudio Ranieri commented on the early Champions League goal, which “gave us more confidence.” Ranieri hailed the match to be “an important win after the Liverpool defeat.” Leicester impressed in defence that evening with Club Brugge managing just three shots on goal, none of which beat keeper Kasper Schmeichel. It was this first match in September that set the stage for a fiery Leicester City side, ready to show Europe that they were up to the challenge of the prestigious competition.

Leicester City headed back to the East Midlands to host FC Porto, an experienced side with many years under the belt in European competition. Expected by many to top the group, Porto’s own campaign this season began with a draw at home to København. Islam Slimani, the club record summer signing for Leicester from Sporting CP, was the eventual scorer of the decisive goal in the clash between these two sides. He earned the nickname of “Dragon Slayer” during his time in Portugal, a testament to his strong performances against Porto (known colloquially in Portugal as the Dragons). Slimani did not disappoint in maintaining his nemesis value for a new club, finding the net from a cross by Mahrez past keeper Iker Casillas. Jesús Corona, Porto’s young Mexican winger, hit the post in the dying minutes but the Foxes were able to hold on to all three points.

During the week at the King Power Stadium, Leicester hosted FC København. They had impressed in their second match by thumping four goals past Club Brugge. The Danish champions were in fine form, unbeaten in 23 matches before the Tuesday night clash. A nervy start to the first half saw Leicester go 1-0 up, with Slimani this time assisting for a back-heeled Mahrez finish. Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel denied former Cardiff City striker Andreas Cornelius an equalizer just minutes after. Jamie Vardy, although goalless in his last eight games, put in a real shift. His work rate paid off and culminated in a cross to Slimani for the winning goal. Schmeichel denied Cornelius again in the dying minutes, keeping a third European clean sheet.

As the referee blew the whistle for full time at the King Power, Leicester had achieved what so many believed they could not. Nine points in three Champions League fixtures, and three clean sheets. The Foxes are on absolute fire in Europe.

Leicester travel to Denmark for the reverse fixture on November 2nd, arguably one of the toughest matches they have scheduled in their group. Qualification from the group seems almost inevitable, as the Foxes look to make their debut European campaign one to remember. Will they continue their soaring form, or will lacklustre performances in the Premier League begin to reflect in Europe?

Jeremy Pepino
jpepino@umass.edu

Analysis: Lloris Rescues Spurs Point

Bayer Leverkusen 0 – 0 Tottenham

For perhaps the first time in recent memory, Tottenham were second best. Leverkusen created enough chances to take three points in their second half display. In fact, the second half was barely a contest at all. Right from the kick-off of the second 45, with the adjustment made by the home side in bringing on Julian Baumgartlinger for Hakan Calhanoglu proving decisive.

To concede 13 shots at goal whilst having none of your own in a half of football is very unlike this Spurs side. Hugo Lloris, as has so often been the case when Spurs have their backs against the wall, was epic. His save to deny Javier Hernandez more like universal class than world class. Fleetingly Spurs appeared to have gone 1-0 down. Lloris was surely beaten, but somehow the Frenchman pounced, commando-rolled and emerged with ball in hand. How did that not clear the line? Incredible work. Thanks to Lloris and the wonders of goal line technology the score rightly remained nil-nil.

Gaping holes were formed in between the defenders, the likes of which are unrecognisable. The shape and structure went missing, so much so that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly whom or what was at fault. Victor Wanyama had again been immense in the first, yet in the second half he was everywhere. But not the right type of everywhere. Trying to cut down and cover almost the entire Leverkusen squad, or so it seemed, took him way out of position.

The gap between Wanyama and Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier gifted the Germans opportunities and put Tottenham under immense pressure. This could be moreso a result of the failings of others to track down and hunt than Wanyama’s own doing. Spurs looked tired,  especially in the front half, but then football sides often do when they are under pressure and unable to play their own way. Much talk in the build up to this game was how Tottenham press their opponents high up the pitch, an element that went missing almost entirely in the second 45.

It wasn’t just Lloris who saved Spurs a crucial point, both full backs too were outstanding. Danny Rose was epic, with a headed clearance and a diving clearance and one or two crucial interceptions. Kieran Trippier was perhaps the best attacking outlet at various stages on the night, and put in one of his finest displays for the club.

Jan Vertonghen is nothing short of an expert at tracking with his back to goal and almost looking beaten, before sticking a timely foot in and knicking the threat away. It is a rare and crucial skill that Vertonghen has perfected, and it prevented shots on goal again here. Just when it looks like he’s cooked, he comes back with that awkward yet trusty toe-poke to save the day.

The final member of the back 4, Eric Dier, was steady. But he also showed just how important Toby Alderweireld is, and he was badly missed. His calm presence, his command of the back 4, he cannot come back quickly enough.

It is a sign of how far Tottenham have come that without their best defender and their best right back (Kyle Walker), they were still able to keep a clean sheet. This simply would not have happened as recently as two seasons ago. But the costly lapses and indifference in defending is a thing of the past. And so even though the threat going forward was non-existent, there was always the hope and even the belief that this team could hold on. Or even somehow pinch the three points.

Arguably Pochettino lost the tactical battle here, but he did at least try things. Bringing off Vincent Janssen though was perhaps one that didn’t seem right. Janssen was terrific and looked dangerous as a threat on goal while Spurs shaded the opening term. He looked far more threatening facing goal than previously, while still effectively using his backside to hold up defenders and play in runners. Janssen netted an off-side chance and headed into Leverkusen ‘keeper Bernd Leno’s outstretched glove; he could easily have scored on another night.

That Spurs did hang on, and in doing so stay second in the group, is a huge result. A loss would have been difficult to recover from, at least in terms of this competition. A draw in the CSKA v Monaco match too helps greatly, and means Tottenham still have their destiny completely in their own hands. 2 wins from the final 3 games, 2 of which are at Wembley, will certainly be enough to get through to the next round. That is the aim.

Son Heung-Min’s Best Goals – Video

Tottenham travel to the BayArena to face Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday night. All of the focus in the build-up has understandably fallen onto Son Heung-Min given he returns to the club with which he scored 21 league goals across two full seasons.

The video below showcases the South Koreans best strikes during his time at both clubs. Tottenham will need all of that skill on display if they are to take anything from this crucial encounter.

 

Close

Follow Us for Football Updates!