Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona take the life out of Tottenham Hotspur

Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona sucked the life out of Tottenham Hotspur

Barcelona entered the game low on confidence, with two draws in as many games in La Liga. Tottenham, on the other hand, was suffering from an injury spree, with nearly four of their top stars missing the home fixture. Ernesto Valverde meant business, as he lined up Philippe Coutinho alongside Luis Suarez and Leo Messi.

The decision paid off in the 1st minute of the encounter when a Messi through ball opened up the Tottenham defense. Barcelona’s left-back Jordi Alba poked the ball to an unmarked Coutinho outside the box, who had to place the ball bottom corner. 1-0 and Barcelona were up and running in the encounter at Wembley.

Tottenham fought and fought hard to pull the Barcelona attack back, but were unsuccessful to control Messi on the night. Messi pulled another attack out of his pocket as he put Coutinho through on goal, and Coutinho’s shot rebounded to the Brazilian. Coutinho’s rebound pass created the best goal on the night.

Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic half-volleyed the ball from outside the box. The thunderous efforts from the Croatian rattled the posts and stung the home fans as Barcelona led 2-0 on the night going into half-time.

Second half: 

The second half was much better for the home side, as they came back strongly with a goal from their skipper Harry Kane. Kane’s presence in the game was threatening from the minute go and he turned Semedo before he curled a whistler past Pique and Ter Stegen.

At 2-1, the game was evenly poised before Messi decided to take over the proceedings. An outrageous dummy from Suarez meant that the ball reached the feet of Messi, who rolled the ball past Lloris. 3-1 and the game was turning on its head for Barcelona.

However, there was another Argentine on the pitch who helped the home side make a comeback. Erik Lamela scored from outside the box, deflected off Lenglet to make it 3-2 on the night. The man of the match, and the man who controlled the match, Messi scored the fourth goal for Barcelona late in the match to end the proceedings.

Top takeaways from the game:

1) Tottenham’s chaotic defense coupled with Hugo Lloris

It was a given fact that Tottenham started without their key defender Jan Vertonghen for the fixture against Barcelona. However, the defense in absence of the veteran were shaky as they allowed loads of space for Philippe Coutinho to attack in the first half. It was worsened by the fact that Lloris was out of position several times in the match, and also gave the ball away very cheaply.

If Tottenham have to go through the group of death, they have to play much better at the back. Lloris continued period of sloppy play has cost Tottenham in the past and has to change if they don’t want it to cost in the future.

2) One man to stop- Lionel Messi

For Tottenham, the game plan was simple- Stop Leo Messi. However, as easy as it sounds, it is much more intense and complicated. The Argentine attacker took the game and weaved his brilliance as the home fans were drawn to his magic. Messi drew defenders towards him before shuffling past them to provide the delivery into the box.

If someone is taking notes on how to play football, they have to watch Leo Messi against Tottenham, and if you are a defender it is your worse nightmare. Messi not only scored, he provided, he danced around the pitch and was sublime in all departments.

3) Arthur’s future looks settled at Barcelona

Doubts were raised on whether the Brazilian midfielder Arthur would replace the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in the middle of the park. Not only did Arthur control the tempo of the game, but the first looks of his play looked reminiscent of Xavi’s time at the club.

If Arthur continues to play in a similar fashion, it is only days before the Brazilian becomes a starter for the club. His vision and his control over the tempo of the game was next to one certain Leo Messi.

4) Lenglet’s timely block

French defender Clement Lenglet has had his fair share of criticism thus far in the campaign for Barcelona. However, with the absence of fellow French defender Samuel Umtiti, Valverde had to start Lenglet alongside Pique. While Pique was shaky at times, Lenglet did not lose the plot as he came up with a good game for Barcelona.

Late in the second half, with the scoreline being 2-3 to the home side, it was Lenglet who saved Barcelona from a Tottenham comeback. The French defender put himself in front of the line to save Barcelona before Messi added the fourth goal.

Liverpool vs Spurs – 5 talking points

Liverpool vs Spurs - 5 talking points

Liverpool made it five wins in five on Saturday after they overcame a Tottenham team that looked nowhere close to their best. In a game that could have so easily have finished four or five goals to one in the favor of the Reds ended in a 2 – 1 victory, courtesy goalkeeping errors from stand-in goalkeeper Vorm. Here we look at the five talking points that we can take for the season ahead. 

KLOPP WINS TACTICAL BATTLE

Liverpool lost the same fixture last season 4 goals to one, but they seemed to be very well prepared for it this time around. Jurgen Klopp got one better than his rival manager and tactically outwitted him. He instructed his wingers to make space behind the Spurs fullbacks. Salah and Mane kept making overlapping runs behind Trippier and Rose causing them serious problems during almost every turnover. Klopp’s team won the midfield battle as well. They didn’t see much of the ball but their forward pressing and the speed of their passes were certainly too much for Spurs to handle. 

MARATHON MAN MILNER

James Milner turns 33 this year, but his fitness level just keeps getting better and better. He wasn’t expected to feature much in the Liverpool squad this year following the arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho but Milner has featured in every game this season for the Reds. And his strong start continued with a man of the match performance at Wembley. According to Premier League tracking data, he covered just shy of 13km at Wembley – more than any other player on the pitch. At 8km/h, he also registered the fastest average speed. Milner applied constant pressure, making more tackles (five) than any other player and helping Liverpool win possession in dangerous areas. The man might not get as much credit as some of his other teammates but there was certainly no one as good as Milner on Saturday at Wembley

THE KANE CONCERN

Harry Kane scored twice in the fixture last time out but failed to make an impact this time out. He hardly got the ball, let alone create something. To be fair to the striker, the service he got wasn’t too great either but his stats were surely poor. He managed only two shots on target for the entirety of the game, something that happened only twice during the entire last season. He also had only 22 touches throughout the game which is extremely poor for anyone’s standards, let alone the World Cup golden boot winner.

VORM ERRORS

The Dutchman came into the team in the place of captain Lloris and hasn’t played a single premier league game since last January. Yesterday his performance at Wembley is not something he would want to remember for a long time. He did make a few fine saves but was partly in error for both the goals. The first goal resulted from a punch that was not convincing enough that fell to Wijnaldum who headed home and the second one resulted from him failing to gather a ball that deflected off the post, one that Firmino stabbed in for the second. 

VAN DIJK IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN

Another solid display from the Dutch captain reinstated his value to the club. Lamela’s late consolation meant that Liverpool couldn’t keep their fourth clean sheet but the commanding presence of Van Dijk in the heart of the Liverpool defense meant his team pulled off yet another stunning defensive display. The most impressive aspect of his game against Spurs was covering defending. He made interceptions on numerous important situations and made up for a few errors that his partner Joe Gomez made pretty comfortably. His arrival at the club has certainly strengthened their defense massively, an aspect that is vitally important if they are to have a good season this time around. 

FIFA World Cup: Denmark VS France, Match Prediction

Denmark VS France

Denmark VS France, Kick-Off Time: 7:30 P.M. (IST)

Denmark will go head to head with France on Tuesday at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.

The pressure is on Denmark in Group C as they need a result against France in order to ensure qualification, the Danes were below their best in their tie against Australia which ended in a draw.

The pressure is off the French, having already reached the knockout stage. The Danes, on the other hand, will have to either beat France or at least struggle for a draw as they seek to make it into the knockout rounds, with Australia also still in the race.

Les Blues would be keen to finish on top of the standings in order to get a relatively easy knockout match. 

Team News

Denmark: With the suspension of Yussuf Poulsen and Pione Sisto having an unproductive stint in the World Cup so far, Age Hareide will be forced to reshuffle his attacking lineup as Denmark face France in their final group match. One point will be enough to progress to the next stage.

FranceLes Bleus qualified for the next round by beating Peru but Didier Deschamps was adamant about finishing on top of the group, no matter who they’ll play against. France should have a number of changes in their starting lineup, but they are certainly still in for the 3 points.

Predicted Line-ups

Denmark: Kasper Schmeichel Henrik Dalsgaard, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Jens Stryger Larsen Lasse Schone, Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen Andreas Cornelius, Martin Braithwaite, Nicolai Jorgensen

France: Hugo Lloris Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante, Corentin Tolisso Nabil Fekir, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud.

Key Players

DenmarkChristian Eriksen has already made a major impact on this competition. The Tottenham star netted in the draw with Australia to continue his excellent run of productivity. In Eriksen, Denmark have a player who has shown himself capable of conjuring big moments, and his influence will be enough to earn the Danes a vital point.

France: Hugo Lloris is a mainstay in the French lineup regardless of the opposition. The French skipper will have a lot on his hands against the more than capable Danish attack.

Form – Last 5

Denmark: D | WW | D | D

France: W | | D| W | W

Betting Odds – Sky Bet

Denmark 10/3

Draw 9/5

France 6/5

Score Prediction

Denmark 1 – 2 France: The French have already qualified for the knockout stage but they surely want to finish on top of the group. Both teams have excellent quality in their squads, Les Blues will likely edge over the Danes.

Where to watch?

TV Channels (India) – Sony Ten 2 and Sony ESPN – 7:30 P.M IST

In addition, you can live stream all the Matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup from 14th June to 15th July only on the Official SonyLIV App and the SonyLIV Website