Drawing at Eintracht Frankfurt is not a terrible result for Tottenham Hotspur, but for all Spurs did right, they did something wrong and left points on the table.
Tottenham Hotspur added a much-needed point to their Champions League ledger with a draw against Frankfurt in Germany. However, it was a game where Spurs should have gotten more. Somewhere in each move, things broke down, and the desired outcome was missed.
Better balls into the final third and lots of chances were created, but Tottenham could not finish the job
After the loss at Arsenal, coach Antonio Conte remarked how the club was missing that final pass, which would have allowed his team to score goals and win. On Tuesday against Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham did a better job getting the balls into the final third and creating chances; however, Spurs struggled to finish the job.
The inability to score was from some stout Frankfurt defending, like against Kane in the box on the ball from Perisic early in the second half; however, most opportunities were simply opportunities lost for Tottenham.
In the first 45 minutes, Kane had four chances to score, inside the box, without one successful finish. Some of the opportunities were difficult; however, when Harry Kane gets four looks at the target, you expect at least one of them to be on the frame. While Kane later hit the mark with a couple of efforts in the second half, they were not nearly the kind of scoring opportunities that passed Kane by in the first 45 minutes.
Of course, Kane was not the only player who struggled to find the target. Emerson Royal had two early half-chances but could not find the target. About 15 minutes on either side of the half, Heung-min Son had two opportunities, also in the box, that never tested Kevin Trapp and left Spurs looking for a breakthrough and a shot on target, which finally came from Kane – in the 81st minute. Even that shot was deflected onto the target and easily saved.
Against Arsenal at the weekend, Spurs struggled to get into the scoring positions they managed on Tuesday in Germany. However, the inability to find the target meant Tottenham was playing for a point at best.
A clean sheet, but Spurs conceded some clear-cut chances
Spurs seemingly had a shutout in Lisbon, but two late goals cost Tottenham the point and first place in the group in their last Champions League match. Despite some nervy moments, the Lilywhites finished th0 defensive tasks in Germany, maintaining the shutout. Considering Tottenham has given up 14 goals in their last seven road outings in Europe, getting a clean sheet is a positive turn for Tottenham.
Like most shutouts, this one came with some good fortune, like when Ansgar Knauff was alone in the box but could not connect on his volley to test Lloris. In many ways, it was the best chance either team had in the game; fortunately for Tottenham, it fell to an opposition wing-back and not a striker.
Tottenham was undoubtedly pushed at times defensively. One example was during the consecutive corners in the first 20 minutes for Frankfort, where Lloris was scrambling in the box using a deft punch to prevent a chance.
At times the trouble was self-inflicted, like when the team was caught in possession near the hour mark, but Jesper Lindstrom could not find the target for Eintracht. In that instance, first, Lloris was too slow in moving the ball to Romero, who was far too nonchalant with a little toe-poke pass to Bentancur at the edge of the box, which led to a loose ball and Lindstrom’s chance.
Spurs employed a bend but don’t break approach defensively the entire match and got away with it.
Tottenham players pressed, but Spurs did not as a team
If you were to look at the distance covered and sprints made for Tottenham in Germany, the numbers would likely match up with most Spurs games this season. Players were individually hustling and working to pressure the ball and make plays.
However, the collective pressure and press Tottenham employed was haphazard at best and dangerous for the defense. All three Tottenham forwards individually had moments where they got on their horse and would run at a defender with the ball, and sometimes even two of the three forwards would participate.
However, I cannot recall a time when all three forwards collectively pressed as a unit, much less with the support of the midfield.
Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre Hojbjerg randomly seem to take turns deciding to run hard and pressure opponents, but the team is not collectively working to create a turnover. Instead, a player is trying to make a play.
Ultimately what’s wrong with Tottenham in all phases are players trying to make plays instead of playing like a team. While it is still early in the season and Spurs have a sound footing in the Champions League, they need to figure that team part out, or a promising start could turn quick.