I arrived at Wembley expecting to see the likes of Messi, Henry and Iniesta grace the same pitch that we’d lost the Carling Cup on earlier in the year. Instead we were given the all mighty Montoya, Caceres and Fontas with the only recognized names being that of Abidal, Toure and Chelsea old-boy Gudjohnson. Although, I guess that’s what you get for playing them in a friendly and not the Champions League. Poor old Spurs.
Our starting eleven included the usual familiar faces from last season. The most notable thing was despite a fit Robbie Keane we opted for 4-5-1 with Defoe up top alone, Huddlestone and Corluka at the back with Cudicini behind them between the sticks.
The first half kicked off with a full sense of optimism and at £50 a ticket I was fully expecting a show. Although, with no surprises, that optimism soon turned to the usual frustration felt at most games as affectively Barcelona’s second team dominated from the moment the referee blew the whistle for kick off.
The first half was truly lifeless from a Spurs point of view, the difference in quality was apparent from the start and on many occasion you just had to sit back and admire the talent on show from the team in red and blue. We were an insult- a disgrace- we were not worthy to play such a quality side. I left myself thinking why I’d even bothered to turn up, what was I expecting, for us to outplay Barcelona, score a bag full of goals and to go home laughing? We decided to sit back, stick ten men behind the ball- I believe it’s called ‘doing a Bolton’- I seriously question this. In a friendly against the European champions we should be in their faces, throwing men forward and putting on an entertaining display, making a good name for the Premiership’s smaller clubs. Spurs thought they were playing in the Champions League for the first time in years.
Another issue that has to be raised was that in defence; Huddlestone and Corluka did not look League one quality let alone a decent Premier League pairing together, but I guess when you’re desperate what other options do you have? But this seriously worries me, we will get bombed against Liverpool if we fail to get a half decent centre back in before the 16th august.
On a rare positive note, Modric is looking a better player every game he plays in, a real stunning asset and a great ambassador for Tottenham. Lennon also looked bright showing glimpses of the class we are all but use to and Huddlestone’s passing ability left me and I’m sure many fans guessing why Redknapp doesn’t give him more starting opportunities. Although, in truth, the real highlight of the night, with the exception of Luka hitting the bar was Billy Wingrove showing what modern day footballers can’t do with his ball skills. At least my first hour at Wembley wasn’t a total waste of time, eh?
To summarise, we are playing ten players behind the ball and losing. History is looking to repeat itself and I predict we will struggle for another season in the Premiership as Spurs really lack the European quality that they had a few seasons back.
HALF TIME: SPURS 0-1 BARCELONA
The second half brought on Keane, Gomes, Naughton and Chimbonda for O’hara, Cudicini, Jenas and Hutton. We switched to the familiar 4-4-2 and I hoped that we would at least put on more of a show than the than the first half did. We tried a new pairing of Chimbonda and Corluka in central defence, should Chimbonda reincarnate the same performances he showed a few seasons back then I believe that this would be the best partnership whilst Dawson, King and Woodgate remained injured. Barcelona made 11 changes; by the time it takes to note all 22 names it’ll be tea time.
The second half brought a lot more energy into the Spurs team; it was as though Redknapp had injected Redbull into their veins. The energy was there but it was the same old story for Spurs, no co-ordination and sloppy when in possession. Quite frankly the Barcelona side were streets ahead of us and played with real pride. I could rant on about Barcelona for pages highlighting the obvious difference in quality, but that’s for a more Spanish based report.
Spurs came out to the second half and did in truth look a bit more interested. In fairness we tried to play football on the floor but were really left chasing shadows as Barcelona continued to dominate possession- and this was without Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and our favourite player Mr. Thierry Henry. We attempted to play the ball on the floor, when we had it but in all fairness were simply outclassed, this leaving a dim light on our pre season preparations and don’t look anywhere near ready for our home game against Liverpool 16 days into August.
Redknapp spotted we weren’t playing to our full potential and that many of our players were having so called ‘off-days’ after 80 minutes, and so, brought on youngsters John Bostock, Jake Livermore, Dorian Dervite and Danny Rose. Un-Surprisingly enough each player grabbed the opportunity with both hands and all looked very good. At least our youth team look justified to have a decent season.
Spurs finally grabbed an unlikely goal after working a corner to the outside of the box and a lofted ball in was met by the head of Livermore to salvage some pride for ourselves. Why we are not giving our youngsters more of a chance in the first team is beyond me and I really think we should take more calculated risks with them.
To summarise, the goal will leave Spurs fans happy but in truth the performance was a poor one against a second and third string Barcelona side. I also felt two issues were raised, one being the centre back partnering as discussed and the other being Kyle Naughton and Aaron Lennon. Naughton looks a quick player but the consistent insistence of repeatedly trying to overlap Lennon and not getting back left huge gaps down the right flank. Kyle looked ok at right back but going forward offered no attacking threat and I struggle to see how this partnership will work, I just hope he is ‘one for the future’
To finish, I am happy that no injuries occurred and felt Modric, Defoe, Lennon and Huddlestone all looked bright. Although we really do need a centre back that can actually, well, defend.
FULL TIME: SPURS 1-1 BARCELONA