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Immediate Reaction: Tottenham 3 - 1 Real Madrid

Tottenham outplay Real Madrid, and Poch gets it all right.

Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Real Madrid got rocked at Wembley, and it could’ve been worse. They lost 3-1 (Alli x2, Eriksen; Ronaldo), and fall to second in the group while Tottenham are guaranteed to qualify for the next round. Real Madrid is a mess right now. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and match review.

I don’t think anyone imagined this.

Pochettino was brilliant tonight, as were Tottenham as a whole, executing a game plan perfectly. They did it with conviction, with confidence, and made the back-to-back European champions look like they didn’t want to be there at all — like they just wanted to go home, curl up in bed, and wish today didn’t happen.

Again, those fundamental things that Real Madrid has been so good at from March to August, look long gone. The passing has been off from nearly everyone. Again, there are struggles dealing with a high-press, and again, there are struggles looking for ideas breaking down a compact scheme. Tottenham played Real Madrid tight for the second game in a row. They allowed little-to-no passing lanes. They forced Real Madrid wide, and shifted just as quickly to close down the wingbacks. When Zidane’s men flooded the box with bodies to meet the cross, the cross never came — the ball simply recycled to look for openings before possession was lost.

Defensively, it was back-peddle city. Real Madrid were spread thin. The coverage was bad. Kane, Alli, and Eriksen came in waves and with numbers. If not for Sergio Ramos getting to places last ditch, it would’ve been worse. Marcelo had a lot to do defensively, and Pochettino gave him no breathing room. On the opposite flank, Achraf looked ok in some moments (he put in three really good crosses, and the rest, well, not great), and was giving away possession and aimlessly hitting crosses to no one in other moments. Casemiro, Modric, and Kroos were all giving the ball away uncharacteristically.

Cristiano Ronaldo pulled one back late to make it 3-1; and in truth Tottenham’s first goal shouldn’t have counted as Trippier was off-side before he squared to Delle Alli. With or without that goal, though, Tottenham thoroughly deserved this victory.

Just a few bullet points from my notebook (the rest of the breakdown will come in the next few hours):

  • I would’ve rolled with Jesus Vallejo over Achraf Hakimi. I don’t fault Achraf in a game like this, but I still don’t see the rush with him, and I’m still not that enamoured by his play, even if I enjoyed a lot of positive things he’s done this season. For those trying to tell me Vallejo is more raw than Achraf — c’mon, this is a guy who started in the Bundesliga, and was one of the league’s best defenders.
  • A lot of jitters (or whatever you’d like to call it) from Real Madrid coming out of the backline for the second consecutive game. Again, forced and unforced giveaways from everyone really set the tone and allowed Tottenham to take over the game.
  • Marcelo had a lot of defensive duties in this game, and Trippier — yes, Trippier — was making a lot of dangerous runs down that flank. Marcelo did not have fun tonight.
  • We have an obsession with hitting long, overhit, cross-field, diagonal switches.

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