After a weekend without football, a rested Tottenham Hotspur travel to Portugal to face Sporting CP in the Champions League; what can Spurs expect from the Lions?
When Sporting hosts Tottenham on Tuesday afternoon, it will be a battle to see which team sits atop Group D after two matches. While Tottenham was taking care of Marseille on matchday one, Sporting had their way with Frankfurt in a 0-3 road win. So what did we learn about Sporting in their victory over Frankfurt?
Sporting is going to line up in a formation similar to Tottenham
One of the first things you often notice about a team is their formation and Sporting, like Tottenham, plays with a 3-4-3 formation.
Like Tottenham, Sporting will look to get their wing-backs up the pitch and into the attack.
As the match against Frankfurt wore on, Sporting could get more push from their wing-backs. Right wing-back Pedro Porro sealed the game with a wonderful cross into space in the middle of the box for left wing-back Nuno Santos to finish. It was a move that Spurs coach Antonio Conte would have been proud of and should have Tottenham alert both outside and in, as the ball will come in quickly.
Sporting will play out of the back, but look for the quick counter
Again, in an approach similar to Tottenham’s, expect Sporting to bring the ball out from the back. The Portuguese side is a talented and technically gifted team looking to build from the backline.
Like Spurs, Sporting will pass the ball around the back, looking for the defense to overcommit one way or another and then striking quickly. Their second goal against Frankfurt was a great example of this tactic.
After playing the ball short to the defenders again and again, and now down a goal, Frankfurt was pressing to try and create a turnover. So instead of playing the short pass, this is when goalkeeper Antonio Adan plays a long ball right up the middle of the pitch. As the ball is controlled and laid back to Manual Ugarte in the midfield by former Spur Marcus Edwards, Pote is running up the middle of the pitch between the defenders.
While the Frankfurt defense is responding to the quick forward pass and layoff, they are unprepared for the simple ball right up the middle to Pote. The forward’s touch took him a bit out of position, but some calm play in the box from Edwards and a solid finish from Trincao ensured the play resulted in a goal.
It was Sporting’s second goal in less than five minutes and floored the already stunned Frankfurt faithful While they will play the ball short and build up, again and again, it is all about finding that one chance to strike long; Tottenham needs to be ready.
Spurs need to keep their cool and let the referees officiate
Sporting may line up like Tottenham and even play a similar brand of quick attack football. However, the two teams have a major difference in physical size. Sporting has a smaller side, averaging less than 180 cm, while Spurs averaged more than185 cm.
This is not to say that Sporting is not a physical team. Rather, the Lions will tackle, tug, and tussle every chance they get. However, the players are as apt to go down from contact as they are to create it.
Tottenham cannot get caught up with the officials when niggling little calls go Sporting’s way. Rather, Spurs need to play tough and through the whistle without worrying about which way the referee is pointing.
If the players can maintain their composure and stay mentally focused, it will be easier to defend against the lethal attack of Sporting. However, if the players get caught up with the official and worry about something that is not the play at hand, Spurs will learn just how lethal Sporting can be.