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    Why Spurs Failed In Europe

    Five years ago, Tottenham reached the quarter finals of their first ever Champions League campaign, defeating European heavyweights including Inter & AC Milan before succumbing to Real Madrid. Five years later, Spurs crumbled at the first hurdle, their fate being confirmed after a dreadful performance in a 2-1 loss to Monaco. But what has gone so wrong in Europe's premier competition for them this time?

    The move to Wembley

    With White Hart Lane in redevelopment, Spurs were forced to play their home European games at the home of football, and they couldn't have looked more uncomfortable in the process. In their two home games so far, against Monaco and Leverkusen, both of which have ended in defeat, Mauricio Pochettino's side have seemed to struggle with the increased width of the pitch, with the pace and quick passing of both their conquerers proving too much, with all 3 goals they have conceded at 'home' coming via counter attacks. White Hart Lane offers a very different experience for visitors, with a smaller pitch and the fans much closer to the action, even 80,000+ Spurs fans can't bring the same atmosphere and in truth both Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen looked more than comfortable playing there. Arsenal had a similar issue playing their home European games at the old Stadium between 1998-2000, crashing out at the same stage in two seasons at their temporary home.


    Whilst it's not an excuse for their shortcomings, injuries have certainly plagued their season. Harry Kane (above) played the home loss against Monaco and an ankle injury that he picked up in mid September ruled him out until early November, in fact he only returned in last weekend's 1-1 derby draw with Arsenal. In his absence Spurs only picked up 2 wins in 11 matches in all competitions, scoring 13 goals in that time, nearly half that total coming against League One Gillingham in the league cup.  Toby Alderweireld, a vital player in their excellent title bid last season, also had a spell out injured and was sorely missed as Spurs struggled without his ariel precense in both areas. They were toothless in attacking set pieces and struggled in defence, relying heavily on the superb talents of goalkeeeper Hugo Lloris. On top of that, the creative flair of Erik Lamela has rarely been able to feature through injury and the usually excellent Dele Alli played the away loss to Monaco nowhere near full fitness and it showed in one of his worst performances for the club, as he continuously gave the ball away. Even worse for Pochettino, he didn't seem to have enough squad depth as he was forced to go with inexperienced reinforcements which was evident on the pitch.

    Lack of UCL Experience

    Since taking charge at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily praised for how he has developed young players into an excellent team, however at the same that has to an extent been his downfall. Eric Dier, who has been a solid option in both defence and midfield for club and country since his arrival at White Hart Lane has been run ragged in Europe this season, and gave away a clumsy penalty in the away defeat to Monaco. His usual defensive and attacking vision simply seems to have averted him on the backstage and he has looked horribly out of his depth. Danny Rose, one of the tops left-backs in England has done okay but also hasn't really reached the same standard in Europe, and was in no mans land as Monaco scored the winner from his flank in the defeat which sealed Tottenham's early exit. What do these two have in common? They have little to no experience at this level. In their last campaign in the elite competition, Spurs had a superb mix of talented youth and experience, with a young Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Rafael Van Der Vaart, and so on. None of the 2010-11 squad are left and judging by the abject displays of a squad far too young for such a tough experience, they needed a mix of youth and experience, and simply didn't have it this time. And finally...

    Team Selections

    Whilst not fully his fault, manager Mauricio Pochettino has to take a share of the blame for Spurs' disappointing campaign. After a successful 2015-16 season which saw Spurs push Leicester all the way for the title, they failed to really build on it and haven't really added to their squad, only Vincent Janssen, Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama joining from AZ, Newcastle and Southampton respectively. With the exception of Wanyama, none of them have added anything to the squad and the lack of depth was shown when he was without Kane, as £17m Janssen barely got a sniff in three games, which saw Spurs score one goal. His biggest sin however came in the crucial away clash with Monaco, in which he dropped the likes of Jan Verthongen, Christian Eriksen and Kyle Walker all rested in favour of defenders who had rarely played together, and Harry Winks, a decent young player who had only made his league debut a few days prior. The result? A calamitous and clumsy performance which saw his side dominated and outplayed by a far more superior and experienced Monaco side. It was a strange selection in such a crucial game from Pochettino, and he will have to think very carefully in the next transfer window if Spurs scrape themselves back into the top four and another crack at the Champions League, and also consider the importance of the competition to both the fans, players and the board.

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    Item Reviewed: Why Spurs Failed In Europe Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Rob Syer Gaming
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