For those that don’t know Tottenham Hotspur are in Melbourne this week as part of the Australian leg of the Champions Cup. With no chance of the hallowed turf of the MCG being not suitable to hold a game (Manchester derby anyone ?) they play both Juventus And Athletico Madrid this week The first leg last night ended in a 2-1 victory to Juventus.
The night before the OzSpurs Fan group organised the opportunity to watch Tottenham go through an official team training at AAMI park. Seeing coach Pochettino put the team through it’s paces and have a lot of training without the ball in simulated exercises shows why they are one of the fittest teams In the English Premier League. Pochettino is in the middle of it all running alongside play, stopping the at any time he feels that something is wrong. (More on his training methods later) There is no doubt why he is seen as one of the brightest young managers in World football.
Onto the game day. Like Tottenham, Juventus brought over a second string squad – totally expected post the Euro 2016 tournament
As Pochettino said to the media on arrival, a young Harry Kane was taken to the USA on a pre-season tour two years ago and now he’s one of the top strikers in World Football. The opportunity to blood another superstar is part of Tottenham’s current philosophy.
As for the game itself. A number of fans complained about the ticket prices now as this fixture was under the Champions Cup organisational banner. $80 for a ticket in the Tottenham section versus $30 or so for Sydney the year before also explains the crowd of 31,500 in a ground that holds 100,000. In previous years there have been no Euros or World Cups that always diminish the squads in terms of star power from these fixtures
Tottenham went down 2-0 after 20 minutes however when a back four of three youth players and a back up fullback they were always going to struggle. The second half though was a different story and although a 2-1 defeat there were plenty of positives. Erik Lamela’s goal and all round play bodes well for upcoming season. His £30m price tag is part of why he’s been derided a little over the last two years, however he looks like a player who is well worth that now. New signing Victor Wanyama was eye catching and looks as though he’s the next Patrick Viera in terms of EPL class. The young player to catch the eye was 17 year old Marcus Edwards. Out of the Spurs youth system he is highly rated and could be another gem in terms of rising talent.
The other new signing striker Vincent Janssen started however be never really got any opportunities. He was given 50 minutes but he never saw the rest of the game. Instead he was put through his paces in the gym on the managers instruction. Another example of Pochettino’s management style – there is no room for idleness.
Apparently the MCG have a three year contract to hold Champions Cup pre season games. This is year two of the contract so the opportunity to watch a English Premier League team down under will more then likely be there next year as well.