The Hard Tackle analyses the best 11 players that were on the pitch in the UEFA Champions League fixture between Juventus and Tottenham on Tuesday.
Juventus had raced to an early 2-0 lead on Tuesday, thanks to a quickfire double from Gonzalo Higuain, with the second one coming from the penalty spot. Higuain missed a chance before Tottenham pulled one back after Dele Alli played through Harry Kane, who rounded Gianluigi Buffon before applying a calm finish.
Douglas Costa earned a penalty before half-time but Higuain struck the bar, with Juventus heading into the break leading by a narrow margin.
The second half saw unrelenting aggression from Tottenham and they were justly rewarded as Christian Eriksen converted from a close-range free-kick with a grounded fizzy shot that seemed to take a slight deflection off someone’s foot, which was enough to evade Buffon’s clutches, despite the Italian veteran getting a hand to it.
The match ended 2-2, with Tottenham holding the away goals advantage going into the second leg. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at the best eleven among the two teams based on their individual performances on Tuesday.
This was perhaps, the most contentious of all the positions. Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon were both busy and had several saves to make. But, Lloris, seemingly, could have done better to save the first goal and while Buffon had also gotten his hand to Eriksen’s free-kick, unlike Higuain’s first goal, the Eriksen set-piece took a bit of deflection off of someone’s foot from the wall.
Apart from this, Buffon denied Kane from close range and also kept out other attacks, which marginally put him ahead of Lloris.
Giorgio Chiellini & Medhi Benatia
Chiellini was the best defender on the pitch, making several crucial interventions all the while, ably assisting Buffon in defence of the Juventus goal. The Italian veteran kept up to pace with the more agile and younger Tottenham attackers and was unlucky to have conceded two goals.
Juve don’t miss Bonucci who left and thought he can shift the balance… Juve also don’t miss Barzagli who hasn’t been a regular starter for 2 seasons… but Juve will 100% miss Chiellini when he’s gone. Irreplaceable 🦍
— Kassem (@KN1897) February 9, 2018
Medhi Benatia, on the other hand, was somewhat of a passenger in the match. But, he has been selected over Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez, more so because of the abysmal defending on display by the Tottenham duo than due to Benatia’s own performance. Would be hoping for a better performance in the return leg.
Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro
An area where there was minimal or perhaps, no competition at all. The Juventus duo hit the ball out of the park as far as their display is concerned, easily upstaging the Tottenham pairing of Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier. De Sciglio and Sandro both made crucial interceptions inside their own box while also marauding down the other end, whenever afforded space.
All in all, Juventus conceded goals due to Tottenham’s own brilliance in attack while the visitors lack of defensive awareness and discipline saw them conceding the two goals on the night, which reflects in the players being picked in our article.
While the defence flattered to deceive and how, Dembele was a steady rock ahead of the back four and went about his job with aplomb. His dribbling ability continues to be an underrated asset but it was his tackling and ability to be a menacing presence in front of the back four that stopped Juventus on capitalising on more of Tottenham’s defensive lapses.
Mousa Dembele bossed the midfield tonight 👏 pic.twitter.com/8sTMNaAqdr
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 13, 2018
Easily the best midfielder and perhaps the best player in the match, except Christian Eriksen.
Christian Eriksen & Federico Bernardeschi
Eriksen set Turin alight with his creativity and ability to find pockets of space while drifting in from the outside. The Dane got a goal but he did more than just that. In the first half itself, he set up Kane and Alli each, but the duo failed to finish from close range.
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 13, 2018
Eriksen was a constant thorn with his movement and put on a show for everyone watching, especially the rumoured scouts that were present to monitor the player’s display.
Bernardeschi, on the other hand, eclipsed Erik Lamela and Douglas Costa, solely based on his ability to venture forward on almost every given occasion. While Lamela was quiet throughout, Douglas Costa displayed his pace only in bursts, one of which resulted in a penalty that Higuain was unable to convert.
Bernardeschi set the tone early on for Juventus and won the penalty that saw Higuain score his second. The summer arrival has been in-and-out of the starting eleven so far but this performance could potentially seal a more prominent role going forward.
Dele Alli did what Dele Alli does. He constantly irked the Juventus defenders with his movement, arriving in the box unannounced while his through ball for Harry Kane’s goal showed his vision and ability to slice through the defence. All in all, a satisfactory performance, but ideally, he would have liked to have converted one of the chances that he managed to get on the end of.
Gonzalo Higuain & Harry Kane
Ideally, we had thought of going for a 4-2-3-1, but a lack of teeth from the wide midfielders and the midfield in general, combined with the prolific nature of the two strikers compelled us to switch to a two-man attack.
While Higuain outshined Kane in terms of goals on the night, both of the strikers would be disappointed with the nature of chances they failed to convert. Higuain struck the ball on the post on his second penalty attempt while also failing to convert from close range after working out a clever and clear opening inside the box.
Higuain is Inzaghi and Kane is playing the Keane role tonight. Spurs deserve to be level.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) February 13, 2018
Harry Kane too, did well to round off Buffon and score Tottenham’s first. But, he could have got a goal earlier had he placed his header from Eriksen’s cross either side of Buffon. Instead, he hit it straight at the Italian veteran, who had no trouble in saving it.