Inter Milan return to the Champions League with a bang, fighting back to defeat Tottenham 2-1 at San Siro.
Mauricio Pochettino said his players would give it their all in the “mythical” San Siro stadium. Unfortunately that wasn’t good enough, as Spurs gave up a 1-0 lead to lose their third game in a row in all competitions. Here are three things we learned from the match.
Frantic second half makes up for dour first
When the first half’s most exciting moments were a decisive Ivan Perisic run and a missed Harry Kane chance, you know there’s not much to talk about. The first half was filled with Tottenham missing basic passes and generally very sloppy play, while Inter were cautious in attack.
But when the second half began, it was all guns blazing for both teams. Both sides showed up with an intent to attack and press, which led to an open, end-to-end game. It was exciting, and enthralling and could have led to a lot more than three goals.
Spurs should have wrapped the game up long before Inter got the chance to stage a comeback, but their lack of decisiveness in the final third allowed Inter back into the game.
The problem for Spurs was the same as it was against Juventus last year: They couldn’t get the result when they were the better team. Inter, meanwhile, showed they’re capable of channeling their Italian mentality to push past the finish line with a victory.
For the neutral, this led to a very open, entertaining match, with loads of talking points being jam packed into the second 45 minutes.
Criticism toward Tottenham is well deserved
Spurs players and fans might be feeling hard done by all the criticism coming their way over recent weeks, but it isn’t without reason.
When Spurs beat United away at Old Trafford a month ago, fans and pundits were singing their praises, while panning United. Since then, United have won all three of their games, and Spurs have lost all three of theirs.
If Spurs are to compete with the big boys, they have to toughen up and prove critics wrong on the pitch, not in the media. Pochettino came out after the game talking about respect, but his players were at fault, and they need to take more responsibility again. Spurs never should have lost this game after going a goal up. They should have been ruthless in both attack and defense, but were neither.
Just like against Watford and Liverpool, Tottenham were awful at times against Inter. They were extremely sloppy and careless in possession, something we’re not used to seeing from them over the last few years.
Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen were the only two players who were consistently good against Inter, whereas Heung-min Son and Erik Lamela only showed flashes of their brilliance. Eric Dier was constantly at fault, giving the ball away repeatedly; Kane struggled to stick with the pace of the game and missed another sitter of a chance, while each of the four defenders looked leggy and disjointed.
These are things that cannot be fixed in the media. These are basic mistakes being made by top quality players. The volume and consistency of these mistakes should be a concern considering Spurs’ group this year in the Champions League.
Luckily for Tottenham, this is still matchweek 1. They have plenty of time to improve, but criticism is by no means uncalled for.
Inter very much belong in the Champions League
For years now, Inter fans have been craving a team that could take them back to where they feel they belong, the Champions League.
And boy were they up for it on Tuesday. From the very get go, the fans at the famed San Siro stadium chanted, sang and banged their way through the match. Simultaneously, the players fed off the atmosphere and looked the more dominant in the second half.
Despite going down to Spurs, this Inter team didn’t really looked phased. They got on with things quickly, and continued playing with a high tempo, eventually getting a well-deserved equalizer, and then winner.
Despite Spurs looking more and more of a threat after they took the lead, Inter continued to attack when they got the chance. At many times during the game, it looked as if the occasion had maybe got the better of them, but Inter’s players and fans worked in unison, using every fibre of their willpower to get a very important victory.