Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan clashed in the second leg of the Champions League round of sixteen on Wednesday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It was a frigid, rainy night in North London as Spurs were already behind after losing the first leg in Milan 1-0. Despite Antonio Conte being back in the dugout, the performance by Tottenham was, for the most part, dull and uninspiring.
Tottenham looked debilitated going forward
Tottenham hoped that the front three that started the match (Son, Kane, Kulusevski) could capture the form they had in the second half of last season. That was not the case, though. Heung-min Son’s touch was all over the place, and Theo Hernandez kept Dejan Kulusevski in check. Kulusevski did cut inside and send in a few crosses, but they sailed over any potential Spurs attackers. Harry Kane received little service up front, and multiple times he tried to drop into the midfield to create but nothing came to fruition. The best chance in the first half for the Lilywhites was when Emerson Royal had a left-footed shot from outside the eighteen-yard box take a deflection into the path of Mike Maignan, who made a comfortable save. In the match’s dying moments, Harry Kane had a low-range header saved by Maignan.
A questionable approach to the match
In the first half, Tottenham Hotspur didn’t offer much going forward. It almost seemed like the aggregate score was 0-0 with how Tottenham was set up. Before the match, Antonio Conte urged the Spurs supporters to create an amazing atmosphere for the match, but the fans didn’t have much to cheer for. This is not the first time this season that Spurs have sleepwalked their way through the first half, as Spurs fans have unfortunately become accustomed to their side is known as ‘second half FC.’
Conte has said previously that he doesn’t instruct his team to sit back, but when it happens repeatedly questions have to be asked about how he sets the team up. Just as Cristian Romero was starting to get in a good run of form, he was booked early and then later on in the match made an unnecessary challenge that saw him see yellow for the second time. In the second half, Conte did sub on Pedro Porro for Ivan Perisic, which saw Emerson Royal move to left wing-back and Porro to right wing-back. That substitution saw Spurs create more chances in the second half. However, it wouldn’t be enough as Spurs were unable to put the ball in the back of the net, ultimately sealing their demise in the competition. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster may be the only Tottenham player that can hold their head high, as he made several saves throughout the match that were all for nothing, unfortunately.