- Match Report
Tottenham Hotspur (2)  vs. Bayern Munich (2) 
Audi Cup Final, Wednesday 31st July 2019 (KO 19.30 BST), Allianz Arena, Munich [Pre-Season, Game 4 of 5]
Dele made some thrilling runs, Lamela was a consistently menacing presence, and Kyle Walker-Peters hurtled up and down the right flank fueled by an increasing reserve of tenacity and talent. N’koudou and Winks both made a noticeable impact in midfield, with the latter dropping deep regularly to pick up the ball from his own box and the former advancing the ball into the final third rather effortlessly at several key points in the game. It was all pretty gorgeous to watch, and resulted in Lamela sliding in at high-pace to pocket a cross from N’koudou in the bottom-right corner of Bayern’s net. It’s a goal worth talking about – N’Koudou’s cross and Lamela’s run, which were both seemingly perfect to the millimetre, combined to form a sublime bit of outrageously unstoppable play.
But that was all in the first half – the second, which as expected in pre-season resulted in a raft of changes (9 to be precise, as with the last game), was mostly an utter shambles. It’s hard to remember a Spurs side being forced to backtrack so much towards their own goal in recent memory. Predictably, Bayern pounced and, despite the presence of several seasoned veterans in their second-half XI, it was up-and-comers Jann Fiete-Arp (61’) and Alphonso Davies (81’) – both born this millennium – who took advantage of Spurs’ unsteadiness and scored. Both of these Bayern players looked like ones to watch in the future (as did Singh, whose transfer fee was reportedly a record for a New Zealander).
The second half started fine for Spurs; Son pounded a real slammer towards the goal but was denied by Bayern keeper Ulreich (subbed on for a consistently solid Neuer at half-time). Soon after, some old-school Spurs chemistry resulted in a perfectly-weighted Kane pass landing at Eriksen’s feet in one of the Dane’s favourite spots, just beyond the right-hand corner of the enemy box. Eriksen didn’t have to think twice – with an almost nonchalant twist of his body, he struck the ball with characteristic force diagonally across the box, and found the net. Spurs were now 2-0 up against a bolstered Bayern second-half XI, who had found a new pace to replace their first-half sluggishness but nevertheless had nothing to show for it. So far, so good for the lads from N17.
But less than 3 minutes later, it had all fallen apart for Spurs. Just like in yesterday’s game, they folded dramatically in the second half with their less-experienced backline. Suddenly, they looked like they barely knew what was happening or why. It was initially hard to put a finger on what had changed at half-time, but it quickly emerged that there were holes in Spurs’ defence. Without Rose and Vertonghen (and to a lesser degree Sanchez), and with Foyth struggling to contain Davies and company on the right (on several occasions being outpaced), it was left largely to Alderweireld to steady the Bayern onslaught. Tanganga (CB, playing to the left) and White (LB) were both decent but nevertheless relied on interventions from Skipp and a rampaging Sissoko in midfield to clear the ball under pressure. A more experienced and structured backline would not have conceded Bayern’s solid but rather opportunistic goals.
Foyth’s frustration eventually led to a yellow for a less-than-ideal (but admittedly not disastrous) challenge just outside the right side of the box – with VAR, some of his tackles might have been under even more scrutiny. It seemed unrelated, but minutes later Foyth fell to the ground after a corner with a substantial injury to his Achilles. It was an unpleasant experience to see him limp off to the side of the pitch in agony, and then be stretchered away. We sincerely hope, for the sake of both Juan and the rest of the team, that the injury won’t be a serious one and wish Foyth all the best.
In the aftermath of this chaos, and in a climate underscored by the general disorganised-ness of the second half generally, Spurs made a number of inbound Academy substitutions (Marsh, Roles, Georgiou) some of whom had to play out of position such was the seismic depth-deprivation that suddenly unfolded following Foyth’s departure and the substitution of Sissoko. Suddenly, the pitch seemed like a battlefield, and Spurs had drastically depleted reserves. But Tottenham clung on regardless, and the line held firm – although the exhaustion and the injuries soured the occasion somewhat considering Spurs are only 10 days away from their League opener against Villa.
Eventually, and with a faint whisper of semi-indifferent inevitability (such was the pendulum swing of the two sides’ fortunes across the course of the 90), it all led to penalties. The main takeaway from these, from a Spurs perspective, was that Eriksen somehow managed to strike a ball straight into Ulreich’s hands in the centre of the goal. It was really quite surprising. See, it all balances out – earlier he scored a characteristic Eriksen banger, half an hour later, he was there hoofing a rather uncharacteristic Eriksen howler right into a keeper’s outstretched arms. Tottenham’s keeper, Gazzaniga, who has had a mixed pre-season, was absolutely excellent, blocking two Bayern shots (those from Alaba and Boateng, respectively).
You probably wouldn’t mind knowing, for future reference and comparison, how the other Tottenham boys did with their penalties, so here’s a potted history: Alderweireld, up first, hit it solidly into the top left. Kane, taking third (after Eriksen’s soft effort) banged it into the top left like he almost always does – it was realistically always going to hit the net. Son toyed with Ulreich, feinting within his run-up on the left before hitting it into that same side’s bottom corner with real swagger. Roles was quiet, unassuming, quick – and struck a thoroughly confident banger of a shot into the top right, like Kane (although it wasn’t quite as hard or fast). Ulreich got a hand to Tanganga’s shot, but luckily for the defender he hit the ball just hard enough that it found the back of the net anyway. Skipp, who was excellent all match and looks increasingly like a perpetually capable squad player, with occasional flashes of burgeoning brilliance, was a penalty-taking revelation and perhaps the most assured of all the takers, aside possibly from Kane. He hit it into the top right, approaching the ball with effortless grace, as if he had no doubts whatsoever and had total mind control over the ball. So, there you have it. Knoweth the penalty-style, knoweth the man.
The net result (yes, that’s a pun) was that Spurs won 6-5 on penalties. Accordingly, Spurs leave Munich with the Audi Cup – after winning the International Champions Cup last year, it’s their second piece of pre-season silverware in two years. Which is really nothing to knock, considering the teams they beat in both tournaments (Juventus, Real, Inter), all whilst playing a huge amount of Academy players. After the penalties, the outer panels of the Allianz Arena were lit-up lilywhite, and it was a sight to behold – let’s hope Spurs can illuminate a whole host of stadiums, both inside and out, with their colours in the coming season. ⚽🏆
All text © 2020 Tottenham, 2019
Next match: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Inter Milan, International Champions Cup, 4th August 2019, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (KO 15.06 BST – yes, you read that right. 15.06! Don’t ask us…)