As a result of his Espanyol affiliations, Mauricio Pochettino has all the time made it abundantly clear that he won’t ever take the reins of metropolis rivals Barcelona.
What Pochettino would give for the energy in depth of the La Liga champions although, particularly because the clock anxiously ticks down within the closing fortnight of the switch window.
Already brief on our bodies as a result of 9 World Cup semi-final absentees, the personnel state of affairs isn’t getting any simpler for the Spurs supervisor. Victor Wanyama has suffered a repeat of the knee damage which saved him out for 4 months final season, Moussa Sissoko was struck down with a hamstring drawback in Saturday’s 5-Three penalty shoot-out defeat to Barca after a 2-2 attract regular time and Erik Lamela was compelled to coach by himself within the build-up to the sport.
Oh, and as supporters want no reminding, Spurs nonetheless haven’t signed a single participant this summer time.
After all, Barcelona – like nearly all of Europe’s heavyweight golf equipment – are additionally lacking their massive hitters. There isn’t a Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and many others for his or her participation within the Worldwide Champions Cup – a event which has farcically turn out to be a showcase for B groups this summer time, as a result of excessive variety of World Cup absentees.
However Barcelona’s fringe gamers had been head and shoulders above Spurs in the course of the first half in Pasadena, California, earlier than Pochettino’s facet pulled stage within the closing 20 minutes after the Catalans launched a raft of youngsters from the bench.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde stays looking out for reinforcements, but the three new gamers who’ve arrived on the Nou Camp already this summer time – Malcom, Clement Lenglet and Artur all stood-out on their first outings for the membership. All have been initially signed as squad gamers, however Artur, specifically, shone.
It’s uncomfortable to make comparisons with Xavi at this tender stage of the 21-year-old’s profession, however the Brazilian is of that ilk; an ice-cool midfield playmaker who always finds house and effortlessly dictates the tempo. His first half purpose was a magnificence too; amassing Rafinha’s go on the sting of the realm earlier than sweeping the ball effortlessly into the highest nook.
In tandem with the likes of Rafinha, Andre Gomes (two gamers who’ve been linked with Spurs) and Munir, Barcelona had been capable of monopolise possession in attribute trend. Pochettino’s facet barely created a factor earlier than the break. They didn’t have the ball lengthy sufficient to take action. Apart from a routine Christian Eriksen free-kick, Jasper Cillessen’s purpose was a secure haven.
Sissoko and Lucas Moura struggled to cope with the passing triangles happening round them in midfield, whereas Son Heung-min and Fernando Llorente had been largely restricted to chasing down defenders.
On the different finish, Munir and Denis Suarez produced a pair of appalling finishes from the sting of the field within the opening 10 minutes earlier than the opener arrived. It was Munir who made amends by cushioning the ball into the unguarded web on the finish of a easy transfer which ripped the Spurs defence to items. Gomes curled the ball in from the left, Rafinha received away on the again publish to go again into the six-yard field and Munir profited from the sleeping Cameron Carter-Vickers.
Valverde didn’t even hurry when Barcelona had been momentarily diminished to 10 males and even 9 males resulting from accidents. Their possession soccer was so good that they continued to dominate.
Seven kids, together with Malcom had been launched from the Barca bench on the interval and whereas the Catalans continued to catch the attention going forwards, Spurs started to exert themselves in opposition to a rookie defence.
Two objectives arrived in as many minutes, each of which stemmed from the Barcelona back-line’s lack of ability to cope with low crosses. First, Ben Davies’ left-wing supply discovered Eriksen, whose shot was blocked, earlier than Son despatched a shot into the underside nook.
Then, Aurier’s cross resulted in Eriksen’s effort being cleared off the road, earlier than academy product Georges-Kevin Nkoudou despatched his volley into the unguarded web.
After all, giving kids reminiscent of Nkoudou, Ben Amos and Oliver Skipp the expertise of combating such possession masters as Barcelona can solely profit them, in the event that they do ever make the grade at Spurs. It was a disgrace that one other of the homegrown gamers, Anthony Georgiou, was the one participant who missed from the spot within the penalty shootout.
However even when Spurs’ long-term future is rosey, it’s the brief time period that’s such a priority for Pochettino and so many Premier League managers, given the World Cup’s impact on the summer time’s preparations. With accidents piled on high of the absentees, it solely makes the switch market ever extra urgent.
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