|photo by apasciuto||via PhotoRee|
Our roving correspondent, Ed, makes yet another appearance revisiting Spurs' famous victory over Inter Milan in this week's Champions League Action.
November 2 / White Hart Lane, London, England
It's late at night and Rafa Benitez is still taking notes, but it really doesn’t matter how many times he underlines “Stop Gareth Bale” unless someone on Inter Milan, the reigning European champion, figures out how to do it. The Brazilian Maicon, theoretically one of the best defensemen in the world, looks positively statuesque in his defense. That is, he looks like he simple forgot how to run, how to walk, how to do much other than play the part of the matador as Bale blows past him this way and that way and, whoops, one more time, on his way to the corner and ultimately to a 3 - 1 victory for Tottenham.
But one can’t really blame Benitez. I mean, how would he know that Bale could be that effective? He merely put three in the goal the last time the two teams played, so honestly, why adjust? Perhaps that’s why the manager who seems to enjoy muttering unintelligibly as he paces the sidelines (does he realize no one is listening except that other guy in his head?) made absolutely no adjustments to try to stop him? Granted, he had a good run at Liverpool, and granted, what happened there is not entirely his fault, but let’s not forget that he left the once proud franchise looking more like West Bromwich Albion than a club that’s won 18 English League titles. And no offense to West Bromwich Albion.
While we’re piling on, shall we take a shot or two at Lucio? The beastly Inter Milan centerback, whose ghoulish semi-mohawk only exaggerates that fact that - to borrow a favorite phrase - he leads professional football in most offensive categories including nose hair, had few answers to Spurs' attacks. He put forward his typical game, committing multiple felonies against Peter Crouch and then flopping as if he just took a gunshot to the abdomen when Luka Modric grazed his ego by cleverly thieving the ball from him on a run (fortunately the referee had a difficult time believing the diminutive Modric really roughed him up and didn’t award a free kick). It also brought great pleasure to see Bale, after literally leaving Inter Milan bodies lying prostrate on the ground in his wake, push it past Lucio and cross it to Pavlyuchenko for the goal that sealed the victory.
But let’s give out a few game balls to some Spurs for what might be among the biggest victories in the past twenty years. Rafael Van der Vaart, despite playing with a slightly pulled hamstring, once again was exceptional on the ball and put Spurs on the board at the 18 minute mark with a decisive strike. The assist on this goal came from Luka Modric, who not long ago was struggling to come back to form from injury, but in this game was a constant threat in the center of the field.
Special praise is also due the Spurs defense and goalkeeper Cudicini. While Eto'o was able to put in a late goal, the defensive bunch that was cobbled together from a roster riddled with injuries played well above their pay grade all evening. The elder stateman Gallas, the Scotsman Hutton, the former Pompey back Younes Kaboul, and particularly the oft-maligned Assuo-Ekotto, put forth an intelligent and aggressive effort throughout. Often football is simply about beating your opponent to the ball, and the Spurs defense did that repeatedly throughout the evening, rarely giving Inter much more than a shot from distance.
And finally, who can forget our Uncle Harry? He has now taken a team that was near relegation to the top its group in the Champions League. A team that had few stars now has depth and vision. A team that lost a tough game on a set piece and a cheap goal at Old Trafford, bounced back and took it to one of the best teams in Europe only a few days later.
And to do it, the Spurs didn’t need players with such pompous self-regard that they require the world to refer to them by one name only (Inter has three such pretty boys), or that slap the name “Sweet Pea” or “Silly Sally” or some such thing on the back of their jersey, or that wag their tongues and call themselves among the best players in Europe after tapping in one of the cheapest goals of the season.
Instead, Spurs were able to beat the best with guys who have such tragically ordinary names as Tom, Aaron, Alan, and Peter. Who knew that was possible? So come on all of you United fans, join the bandwagon: there’s still some room in the bus, although as our President said not too long ago, you may have to sit in the back.
That's farlieonfootie for November 4.