Not So Much a Match Report, More a Celebration

Last night Spurs produced a fearless, compelling and utterly irresistible display of bravura football, the like of which I have seldom seen in my 40 plus seasons of watching my beloved team. Inter Milan, proud champions of Europe, a defence the envy of the competition, were repeatedly torn to shreds. One of the greatest nights in our modern history, but with football like this, there’s scant need to be parochial – this morning the eyes of Europe are upon us.

At the end of the night, a shy, modest young Welshman was anointed as a world-class talent. Gareth Bale shattered Inter with an unstoppable combination of muscular direct running and devastatingly accurate crossing. Top class players with every trick in the book,  pace, hard tackling, positioning plus the arcane dark arts of international defenders, they’ve seen it all before but on the night all they saw was his backside as he powered past them. As they thrash around in the middle of the night in storm-tossed demented half-sleep, the number three will float into their consciousness and torment them for evermore.

I’ve seen a game or two in my time but I’ve never seen anything quite like Bale. In full flight this big man is a fearsome sight. he needs a stride or two to get moving but once he gains momentum he’s away. Yet despite this, the most remarkable aspect of his play is the final ball.  Viciously swerving crosses that are nigh on impossible to handle or the far post ball on the ground, they are dispatched with great accuracy whilst he’s stampeding through at full tilt. The touch to the byline, the amount of times the ball does not cross the line but is pulled back as his instep curls around it and into the box. This is not a reflex reaction. Rather, he’s learned to pick his passes much better, witness the second and third goals last night. As the blood pumps furiously and every sinew strains, his mind remains focussed and calm. He is twenty-one years old.

It’s not as if Inter were unprepared. Not only was there plenty of first hand evidence from the first leg, Benitez knows the English game intimately, yet his team offered too much space. Even if they had closed him down, Bale would have escaped their clutches. This signals a new strand of defensive tactics. Against Bale, formations are no longer described with players spread across the pitch horizontally. Goal-line to goal-line, 5-3-2. It’s the only way.

This was no one man band. Modric was outstanding in the centre. Low to the ground, seeking space and then filling it with an angled ball or a short stabbing run to collect the pass and move on. Always active, he provided both an outlet for team-mates and a steady supply of creativity. Little arms outstretched, give it to me, give it here, I want it give it to me. The opening goal was exquisite, a simple natural beauty rather than the glamour of those that followed but nonetheless it took the breath away. The touch and turn, head up, how can a football rolling 6 yards be so sumptuous? Van der Vaart, on the same wavelength, as one and in. Stunning.

VDV roamed wild and free in the first half. Not everything came off but Inter could never rest. Hud was solid in the centre, spraying the ball wide and undertaking defensive duties diligently. Gallas had a decent match. He bounces around like tigger, hopping up, down and sideways, alert and balanced, barking out instructions. No thought of bygone days, only Spurs on his mind and new challenges ahead. Lennon occupied Inter’s attention, if only the final ball were better but he made his fair share of opportunities. Another word of praise for Kaboul. He should be way over his head in this company but he’s not having any of that. He wants it, wants it bad, and he had another good game. For our third, the little Inter forward had possession, edge of the box, back to goal, and Kaboul stayed patiently on his feet rather than diving in. Result? We gained possession and Bale disappeared into the wide blue yonder.

Yet the really wondrous aspect of this match was the team itself. No hint of the disjointed, aimless play we’ve seen so often with this squad. They produced a sustained display of attacking endeavour, moving as a single organism with one intent, victory. The movement was excellent throughout with barely a moment to catch their breath. They supported each other magnificently and played from the off with sustained purpose and high tempo. From the kick off Bale took a waist-high pass under pressure and first time knocked it back, to Benny I think. A footnote on a wonderful night but it was a sign of confidence. Spurs imposed themselves on their illustrious opponents from the beginning and never let up. My head was spinning as we tried to break down the Italian barrier – both wings, running, passing, onetwos, the entire gamut of creative football.

I suspect Benitez had no sense that Spurs would dare to attack so consistently. It’s the Champions League, a group match, you want to win but are cautious because losing is a crime. Everyone knows that. Kudos to Redknapp and the coaches for setting up the team in this way and for instilling the will to win. The fluency up front was a joy to behold. Not just VDV and Luka, but Bale making diagonal runs off the ball into the middle and pushing JJ forward when Rafa went off. Inter had barely a moment’s respite from this unceasing assault.

So Bale, this giant of the game, runs amok then amidst the tumult of celebration absent-mindedly checks his hair. In the post match interview, he looks at the floor, says he’s still learning. Last week he had a few days off. Went to stay with his mum. Just a kid of twenty-one. Me, I’ve seen it all before, but I’ve not seen anything like this. Past 1 am, can’t sleep, watch the recording and waves of goosebumps flow down my body from head to toe. After all this time, I should not surprised by what Spurs does to the emotions, but once again they’ve floored me. A head-spinningly joyous night of wild passion and wonder.

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23 thoughts on “Not So Much a Match Report, More a Celebration

  1. ‘triffic article and right on the money – ceaseless running, chasing and harassing meant Inter couldn’t really settle. 50 odd years man and boy I’ve followed Spurs (armchair fan these days) but boy did they get the emotions going. BRILLIANT!!!

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  2. To add to all the wonderful individual performances you mentioned, Modric and Cudicini were blipping brilliant!!!! Modric had us ooh-ing and aah-ing constantly. Great night, one indeed for celebrating and that’s what we all did. Brilliant!

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  3. A really sumptuos performance by you lot. A result to breed massive confidence into your team. Was it Inter or Mourinhio who won that Champions League last season? Hmmm. The big thing now is to replicate that form away at Bolton this weekend-that’s the tough double act that is the Champions League. Anway, congrats on a stellar peformance and a great result by the Spuds.

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  4. The whole team played like demons. Nothing needs to be said about Bale. Modrics run and little dummies and then the final pass for VDV’s goal was poetry in motion. It was just a fantastic night. The thing I really liked was the look on the Spanish waiters face. He looked shell shocked. Well done everybody & that includes the Fans.

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  5. I actually did a little dance around the living room. A fantastic result. Logged on here first thing this morning to read your views, always a great read.

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  6. I don’t think Bale is human! Still in sheer ectasy over the result, what a night! 61 was the year we last won the title, 2011 is the CL final – 50 years, catch my drift or am I getting ahead of myself?

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  7. Spot on. The team performance was a joy to behold. That said, two of the individuals not mentioned in your article are Hutton and Crouch. I don’t know if that was intentional but I believe those two were the only two individual performances that didn’t rise to the occasion to the same extent as the rest of the lads. I felt that if there was to be a disappointment, it would come from one of those two. Still, they did their job and didn’t cost the overall performance. I hope this amazing win helps inspire them for future games.

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    • Yeah, I deliberately left them out but the team was the thing and they played their part. Hutton must be pinching himself – injured, out of the team and supposedly out the door. I always rated him.

      Regards,

      Al

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  8. Oh yes oh yes yes yes yeeessss. Great article and what a night I eventually had to sit on a towel last night becasue I was sooo excited, did not dare leave damp patches on Mummy and Daddy’s three piece. I could’nt wait to get to eithere last night and just lay there with the lights off contemplating all that had gone before. Oh Yes.

    HH
    xx

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  9. As I meandered home last night, I simled sighed and said to myself that was a bravura performance.

    While Bale will take the plaudits and headlines, I too thought Modric the hub of the performance. Wonderful. They all played their parts of course as did the crowd. I thought it it after Chelsea at home last season, and we performed, looked, felt and sounded like a huge, major club last night.

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  10. Nearly 48 hours later, and I still can’t really concentrate on anything – obsessed by Tuesday’s unbelievable performance. Too bad my DVD recorder went tits up last week!! Especially as, displaying their usual commercial acumen, the Spurs Shop say they ain’t gonna sell it on DVD – and can’t explain why!!

    Did anybody manage to record the Sky coverage and would you be able to make me a DVD-R copy? Natch, I’d pay your costs and offer you the pick of two or three of my most nubile daughters for a couple nights. (OK, I lied about the last bit)

    Can you help a Spurs nut half way up a Welsh mountain? Give me a shout at czyrko@btinternet.com

    cheers!! Oh, and COYS!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. A fellow obsessive. I’d imagine as it is the CL, Spurs don’t control the broadcast rights.

    Come on fellow Tommers, let’s help a friend in distress. I’ll put the word out on twitter.

    And just how many nubile daughters do you have?

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