Tottenham: 3 takeaways from win in Europa League qualifying

Tottenham Hotspur, Tanguy Ndombele (Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur, Tanguy Ndombele (Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images) /
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Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane (Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur overcame a late deficit to advance in Europa League, qualifying 2-1 over Lokomotiv Plovdiv, thanks mostly to Tanguy Ndombele and some dumb Plovdiv mistakes.

Tottenham Hotspur were poor against Everton on the weekend, leaving their coach questioning their fitness and desire. Thursday in Bulgaria, anyone watching would have had a hard time questioning the desire of the Spurs on the pitch, as there was little doubt as to the effort demonstrated.

While the effort that was not present at Everton was in Plovdiv, the overall play of the team was not great, but was good enough thanks to the introduction of Tanguy Ndombele and a couple of Plovdiv red cards for stupidity.

So, what happened in Bulgaria for Spurs to advance?

Tottenham troubles

It is difficult to question Jose Mourinho and we know he prefers a 4-2-3-1 line-up, however, starting the game with two holding midfielders was just far too conservative an approach. In our projected XI, we recommended a 4-1-4-1 line-up as just one defensive midfielder would be enough – particularly if that midfielder is Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Instead, Jose decided to use two holding midfielders in Moussa Sissoko and Hojbjerg. While the combination kept the lethal attack of Lokomotiv at bay, the pair did little to move the ball forward and are just far two slow recycling the attack to be played together.

Maybe it was the pitch or the temperature or something, but there were several Spurs who simply had no touch today. There were at least two or three balls where they came into both Sissoko and Heung-min Son where instead of controlling them, the ball popped up and became a 50/50 that never should have been.

While they were not the only players to struggle with their first touch, they were probably the most egregious and obvious. That is something you can get away with in Bulgaria, but not in England and needs to improve. Poor first touches contributed to the breakdown and multiple potential attacks tonight and simply needs to be improved.