|OPPONENTS||SS Lazio (Italy)|
|COMPETITION||Europa League - Group J|
|DATE||Thursday 22nd November 2012|
Spurs have struggled of late, with goals being more difficult to come by, whether with two strikers or one. With Ade and Jermain up front against Maribor, the tactic paid off, with three goals for the team, but Lazio are a different proposition, being fourth in Serie A and having only lost four league games all season. Their side is more experienced in Europe and has more notable names, so it will be a tough task for Spurs to win away in the Olympic Stadium.
The Rome side are scoring quite freely with Miroslav Klose and Hernanes leading the way. Both showed at White Hart Lane that they are quick witted players, who have an eye for an opening. In fact, it was midfielder Alvaro Gonzalez who went closest to scoring for the Italian side that night. His technically perfect volley striking the bar from the edge of the box. His play was controlled and his passing decisive, so he will be a player who needs to be watched closely, as his movement off the ball was very good too.
But they moved the ball around well that night and had Spurs stretched sometimes, but the way Spurs were set up allowed them to get enough players back to counter this. With Dembele alongside Sandro, it gave Spurs a good solid platform to launch attacks from and two physical players to get back and defend when required.
Mauro Zarate had a short spell at Birmingham City before heading off to Lazio and he is a player who is regularly linked with a move to the Premier League while Sergio Floccari hasn't had too much of a look in this season, with the same going for Libor Kozak.
Midfielder Lorik Cana is another with English experience, having featured for Sunderland, but he has mainly been introduced from the bench this season. Cristian Ledesma has been more of a regular with the Argentinian Italian international producing shots off either foot.
Biavi and Cavanada formed the centre back pairing and as would be expected from and Italian team, they rarely let anything pass - legally or not. In fact, some of the tackling the Lazio players put in at WHL looked decidedly vicious and not just the usual cynical stuff you associate with a team from Serie A. Captain Stefano Mauri and Andre Dias took no prisoners and they will be getting stuck in again. Senad Lulic at right back might be wishing Gareth Bale had been missing this time as he got a bit of a roasting last time out against Tottenham and It is from the wide positions that Spurs must try to profit. We have seen previously that Italian teams at home have a conflict of approach. Used to trying to defend, they realise they may need to push on and thus expose themselves to the counter-attack.
Spurs will need to test goalkeeper Marchetti a bit more than they did at the Lane. He was beaten twice then, but both were ruled out and harshly so it proved on playback. However, the keeper was not put under much pressure in terms of shot son target and we will need to do better in that department.
The need for a win for both sides is uppermost in their thoughts. For Lazio, it would confirm their first place in the group and for Spurs, it would put them a step closer to qualifying from the group. I am not sure that the home side will take too many chances and of they get a goal ahead, you could well see them shut up shop and hold onto the lead ... something we have trouble doing.
|PREDICTION||Lazio 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0|
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Lazio 0 (0)
Thursday 22nd November 2012
Venue : Olympic Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)
Kick off 18:05
Floccari (handball) 85
Vertonghen (foul) 75
|Crowd : 20,000||Weather : -|
|Referee : Fernando Teixeira Vitienes (Portugal)||Assistant Referees : -|
|Fourth Official : -||Additional Assistants : -|
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Curva Sud end in the first half.|
|Lazio :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
2 Michael CIANI
18 Libor KOZAK (99 Sergio FLOCCARI 78 )
Gylfi SIGURDSSON (
10 Emmanuel ADEBAYOR
|Manager : Vladimir Petkovic||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : -||Shirt sponsor : Investec|
|Kit Supplier : Macron||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
A poor performance by Spurs went unpunished by Lazio in this 0-0 draw because of two players - Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who had an outstanding game and Kozak, to whom, fortunately for Spurs, most of the chances for Lazio fell too on a night when the barn door went without damage.
Spurs came into the game with one forward - Emmanuel Adebayor - with the hope that he could hold the ball up to get the midfield to join in with attacks, but that failed to happen, with the Togo striker contributing little during the game. While Lazio started without Miroslav Klose not even considered for the bench and without former Sunderland midfielder Lorik Cana being suspended, they played one up front as well, with a five man midfield to Tottenham's 2-3 formation. There was an air of tension after Spurs fans had been attacked in a City Centre pub the precious night and the small contingent of Spurs fans was not hugely outnumbered by the home fans, with just about 20,000 gathered in a 70,000 capacity stadium. While the Lazio fans sang a bit and waved flags a lot, there were people at the front co-ordinating things, with the biggest noise reserved for Paul Gascoigne on his lap around the pitch before the game.
Looking happy and smiling, there was also an air of bemusement about the Geordie, who had apparently overcome his fear of flying to accept an invitation to attend, when perhaps a better option might have been for him to go the the game at White Hart Lane back in September. But I hope the reaction he got from both sets of fans helped him overcome the buffetting he got from the stewards and security people who were jostling him around he running track.
When the game kicked off, with young Tom Carroll starting alongside Sandro in the defensive midfield area, Tottenham seemed to settle quickly and passed the ball well for about ten minutes. In this time, they scored a goal, which was as good as the two at White Hart Lane and also suffered the same fate as those netted efforts. This time, the linesman ruled it out for offside, when it clearly appeared at the time and was later backed up by video evidence, that Carroll's ball threaded through the centre and inside Cavanda to Bale found the Welshman at the very least level with the Lazio defender. Taking the ball to the keeper's left, Gareth knocked it in with his right foot and Spurs should have been leading with five minutes on the clock.
With twelve minutes gone, Bale crossed from the left to the near post and Gylfi Sigurdsson darted towards the ball, but was just beaten to it by Radu, who conceded a corner. But it was around this time that Tottenham's passing got sloppy and players were passing without looking, so either the recipient was under pressure or the pass went astray and the ball was turned over to a Lazio player.
This resulted in a double scare on the seventeen minute mark. Firstly, Kyle Naughton, who had a shaky start, got in a good block as Libor Kozak looked ready to get a shot on goal from the edge of the box, then, when the ball was picked up by Lazio and fed to Cristian Ledesma, he strode forward a few yards and hit a shot from 25 yards that dipped and swerved and looked like it would be Lloris. However, the French keeper reacted sharply to throw a left hand out to push the ball onto the bar and then he reacted quickly to get up and put off Luis Cavanda when he looked to seize on the loose ball. it was a fine save and one that gave him confidence for the rest of the game ... and he was to need it.
A few minutes later, a couple of Spurs corners were followed by a cross from the right wing by Bale, that had Marchetti scrambling back to scoop the ball over the bar, as the cross-cum shot looked like it might beat the Lazio glove man, as it swung in with him off his line. But Lazio broke away in the 26th minute with Cavanda finding space on the right to slip a pass that went behind Walker, who committed himself to trying to intercept it. Lulic looked odd son to score, but Hugo stuck out a leg and diverted the ball away from his bottom right corner and off for a corner. Five minutes later, Kozak got across the front of Caulker to a right wing cross and had a great chance to pen the scoring from about five yards out, but he didn't get enough angle on his header and it thumped into the advertising hoardings behind the near post.
Kozak's chance came from Spurs trying to play a high line and the same issue caught Vertonghen coming out to a high ball through over the top and onside, Kozak was stopped by Lloris rushing off his line to slide in and then he was required to do the same five minutes later, as he came out to smother the ball without handling it right on the edge of the box. While the ball was in play for about ten minutes before half-time, Kyle Walker was kept off the pitch by the petty officials, as he suffered a blow to the nose, causing blood to spatter his shirt and had to change it. When the number 49 blood shirt arrived, the fourth official wouldn't let him back on as his shorts bore his squad number 28 and this did not match the 49 on his shirt. A clean 28 shirt was found and finally he was allowed to return to the fray and then the half-time whistle went.
When the action restarted, the other Spurs full back was in the wars, with Naughton getting a kick on his ankle and when he came back onto the pitch, Tottenham found some joy down the right, with Adebayor dropping wide and putting in a couple of good crosses for Dempsey, which was intercepted at the near post, as the midfielder race din and then to Caulker, who was not able to get a good jump on the ball. Tottenham's obsession with trying to play the ball out of the back almost cost them, when Sandro got the ball under pressure and lost it, leaving Kozak to beat Caulker on the left of the box. With the goal in front of him and Lloris committed to going across to field a cross-shot, the striker went for the near post, where there was a big gap, but he dragged his shot embarrassingly wide of the post from about six yards out.
That was on the hour and four minutes afterwards, Lloris was once more quick off the mark to run out to kick away from Kozak, as the ball was played in behind the Spurs defence again. Then five minutes further on in the game, Kozak was in on goal with a great chance and hit a weak shot straight at Hugo to preserve the 0-0 score-line. Ledesma curled a 25 yard free-kick a couple of yards wide and an in-swinging corner was well kept out by Llloris, who was bundled into the goal-post by Lazio captain Mauro.
Five minutes before the scheduled full time whistle, Lazio could easily have won the game and the Spurs keeper made his best save yet. From a corner on the Spurs right, the ball was swung into the six yard box and Michael Ciani rose highest between the Spurs defenders to head downwards powerfully. Lloris got down quickly and got a hand to the ball just in front of the line and the ball was then kicked out by the defence. In the ensuing follow-up, substitute Floccari handled and got booked. He had the last shot of the match though, firing recklessly wide and high from outside the area on the right as time ticked out.
At the end, a 0-0 draw saw Tottenham record their fourth draw in five group games and go into the last game with Panathinaikos at the Lane, knowing that the winner will go through. In fact, a draw will do Spurs, with Lazio likely to finish top. The Greek side beat Maribor tonight to rule the Slovenians out and it will all come down to two weeks time. Hopefully, Spurs will be able to find the goal-den touch on the night in N17.
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|What you thought|
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Position before match :
Position after match : 2nd
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