Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Majestic Madrid Eviscerate Spurs

Emmanuel AdebayorIt has to be said that of all the teams participating in this year's Uefa Champions League, it has been Tottenham Hotspur which has provided us with the most entertainment. Their cavalier mode of attacking play has set the tournament alight, and winger Gareth Bale has been arguably the player of the competition so far. However, after an absolute pounding in Madrid, Spurs' Champions League dreams may have come to an end.

From the moment Aaron Lennon withdrew from the starting eleven (the winger was suffering from a bout of illness)  everything that could have gone wrong for Spurs, went wrong, with the horror truly kicking off after Adebayor's opener.

A delightful corner was whipped in by Mesut Ozil, right onto the head of Emmanuel Adebayor, who's finish wasn't dealt with on the line by either Luka Modric or Hureleho Gomes. Real Madrid had an early lead, and minutes later things would become even worse for Tottenham Hotspur.

Still reeling from the goal, the last thing Spurs needed was to go a man down, but two stupid fouls by Peter Crouch, and two subsequent yellow cards, led to the dismissal of the Tottenham front man. Both fouls were committed in an area of the pitch where Real possession held no immediate threat, rendering Crouch's two late, sliding challenges all the more asinine.

Down a goal and a man, it was all Spurs could do to keep the score at one-nil until half time, with Real Madrid battering the back four for the entire forty-five minutes. On the counter however, the Lilly whites still posed the Spaniards with a considerable challenge, and Gareth Bale drew several useful fouls deep in Merengues territory.

The half ended amidst another whirl of Real Madrid attacks, a sign of things to come in the second half.

The second period started much like the first had ended, with a prolonged period of pressure from the home side around the Spurs box. Tottenham could not get the ball clear or maintain any kind of sustained possession, even with a target upfront, Jermain Defoe, who had come on for the ineffective Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Finally, on fifty-seven minutes, Real made the killer blow, another Adebayor header, this time a deft touch after a lovely Marcelo cross, giving the second placed La Liga side a precious two goal advantage. Spurs were really on the rocks, and, smelling blood, the home side continued to press forward searching for a third goal that would surely end the tie, and they almost found it, as another Adebayor header was tipped over the top by Gomes.

But that save would only provide Tottenham with a temporary reprieve, on seventy-one minutes, Madrid made it 3-0, courtesy of a spectacular strike from Angel Di Maria. Cutting in from the right, Di Maria lashed home a curling, left-footed shot which gave Gomes no chance, and all but assured a place in the semi finals for Real Madrid. Tottenham had been punished for a complete inability to keep the ball, but worse was still yet to come.

With three minutes remaining, and a three goal lead intact, Real Madrid could have been forgiven for letting up, but that is not the nature of a Jose Mourinho team, and if a place in the semi finals had been at all in doubt earlier, then after Ronaldo's low volley off a Kaka back post chip found the net, all doubt had been casted aside.

Real Madrid had offered Tottenham Hotspur a lesson in how the very top European teams play football, and Harry Redknapp will now have just a week to reflect on how best to tackle the second leg. Hopefully for the Londoners, they will manage to keep all eleven men on the pitch for the duration of the match, but even with equal numbers, a spectacular come back looks a step too far.

Spurs' Champions League adventure may well be over, but Redknapp's side should not become discouraged, as a good run of form to end the season could see them book a place in next year's competition.

1 comment:

  1. Feel free to comment on your views surrounding this week's Champions League action