MEET THE TEAM
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC
Finding ways to win without Harry Kane has added a cutting edge to Spurs’ steely resolve
If the best teams are those who find different ways to win, then Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur belong in that bracket.
Not so long ago, pundits would question their prospects in the event of injury to their talisman, Harry Kane, yet for all his influence -
dropping deep and both creating chances and scoring himself – Spurs have proved themselves a team with a varied playbook.
Heung-Min Son scored in four straight wins during Kane’s absence in the winter, then struck in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City, with Kane having departed injured. Goals from Son, Fernando Llorente and Lucas Moura in the second leg at City and the semi-final against Ajax highlighted both their versatility and character – and showed too how Spurs, and Pochettino, have adapted to the greater demands of the UEFA Champions League.
Just over a year ago, they squandered a lead against a more experienced Juventus side at Wembley to go out in the round of 16. This season, Pochettino made a masterly substitution at half-time in the second leg at Ajax, replacing Victor Wanyama with Llorente, whose hold-up play totally unsettled the young Ajax defenders, and allowed Spurs to bypass their midfield and achieve a stunning victory.
Pochettino’s tactical repertoire includes 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 formations, though he also deploys a back three at times. And if the Argentinian favours a slow, patient build-up from the back, with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and the rejuvenated Moussa Sissoko not only dropping deep to collect but also pressing high with the full-backs to create numerical advantages all over the pitch, Spurs pose a danger from everywhere.