4 talking points from Tottenham’s goalless draw with Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League
Tottenham drew 0-0 away against Bayer Leverkusen in Group E of the Champions League tonight. Here are four talking points.
1. Spurs are left to rue missed first-half chances again.
Similarly to Saturday’s league game at West Brom, Tottenham dominated the first half but failed to capitalise and score when they had the ascendancy – and their profligacy again resulted in a difficult second half and a draw, this time a goalless one.
Right-back Kieran Trippier, who started his second Champions League game in a row, set up two big chances for Dele Alli and Vincent Janssen in the opening 45 minutes after whipping in excellent crosses, but Alli headed wide and Janssen’s effort hit the bar, while the rebound was tipped over.
Alli admitted after Saturday’s match that he needs to be more clinical. And, while he got another opportunity at the weekend and took it with his late equaliser, this time there were no second chances.
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Bayer Leverkusen were much-improved in the second period of a match which turned into a classic game of two halves, and Spurs rarely threatened after the interval.
It was another reminder, if was really needed, of the importance of taking chances when you are on top – especially in the Champions League – as Tottenham drew a blank for the first time this season.
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2. Vincent Janssen’s getting closer.
The Tottenham striker could certainly do with a goal, having only managed one strike from the penalty spot for his new club so far - but at least he seems to be getting closer.
At West Brom, the Dutchman appeared to be more concerned about creating chances for his colleagues than testing the goalkeeper himself - which could be viewed as commendably unselfish team play or interpreted as a concerning lack of confidence.
This time he was more of a threat in the box, seeing a goal disallowed for offside before hitting the woodwork with a header. These are positive signs but Spurs are still missing Harry Kane’s clinical finishing and Janssen was the first player to be substituted by Pochettino.
That was arguably harsh - the four attacking midfielders behind him were no better in the second half in Germany - but the Lilywhites had successfully broken the deadlock against CSKA Moscow in their previous Champions League match after Janssen was withdrawn, and it made sense to introduce Mousa Dembele at a time when Spurs were losing the midfield battle.
3. Another clean sheet, without Toby Alderweireld.
Tottenham were missing two members of their first-choice back four in the injured Alderweireld and the rested Kyle Walker but they kept another clean sheet – their fifth in the last seven games and their seventh of the campaign overall.
In the first half they were rarely troubled, partly thanks to the typically effective protection from Victor Wanyama, and the biggest danger was the prospect of them losing the ball around their own box as they bravely stuck to their policy of passing out from the back, despite Leverkusen’s energetic pressing. There were a couple of nervy moments in that respect.
The second half was a different story though and the failure of Spurs’ creative players to keep possession and relieve the pressure meant Pochettino’s visitors had to withstand a number of attempts on their goal.
Their clean sheet was largely due to individual heroics rather than organisation, with Hugo Lloris making a string of good saves – most notably from Javier Hernandez when he somehow stopped the ball on the goalline – and Danny Rose making a fine block.
Like their guests, Leverkusen will also look back ruefully on the chances they squandered - but Spurs kept their opponents out one way or another.
4. All to play for at the halfway stage.
Group E always looked like it would be tight, and so it is proving after three games each, with all four sides lying within three points of each other.
Tottenham lie second, one point behind Monaco, after a win, a loss and a draw, and all eyes will return to Wembley in a fortnight’s time when the Lilywhites host Leverkusen in the return fixture.
Spurs have done well to recover from their home defeat to Monaco when they last played at the national stadium in Brent, having taken four points from their trips to Russia and Germany, but they must make home advantage count in their next European outing.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs