Friday, November 26, 2010

Rarefied Air for Spurs

photo by nappentvia PhotoRee

farlieonfootie correspondent James checks in from his rather excellent adventure at the Lane Wednesday night, where he played witness to Spurs' somewhat shockingly easy dismissal of Werder Bremen in the Champions League:

The legion of Yids find themselves in rarefied air as Spurs face an unprecedented opportunity to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League against an injury depleted Werder Bremen squad. Spurs lineup is the same as played this past weekend, with the exception of Van der Vaart's absence and Crouch getting his typical international start. In VDV's place Uncle Harry has inserted a second striker - Pavlyuchenko paired with Crouch - in a typically aggressive strategy for Spurs in the pan-European competition.

Will the Lily Whites be hung over from their hugely emotional win at the Emirates four days ago, and without their Dutch Talisman (resting a troublesome hamstring)? Any doubts are put to rest right from the opening.

The crowd at the Lane is electric as usual, and as Modric and Jenas control the mid field, and the Jeckyl-and-Hyde-like Lennon appears to have woken up on the right side of his bed today, injecting great pace on the right wing. It's Lennon who breaks free on a wonderful rush to set up the suddenly prolific Kaboul in only the 6th minute of the game. While Kaboul will never be accused of being a goal scoring machine, the former journeyman has emerged as the latest successful Redknapp reclamation project and, along with Gallas, anchored an injury ravaged center defense for Spurs and scored the winner at the Emirates.

Speaking of Redknapp reclamations, Bale is all over the field yet again.  He'll do everything in this match but score: running Clemen-Fritz - the latest right back to be victimized - ragged,  hitting the woodwork twice, just missing with another shot and launching a succession of threatening crosses into the box.

Not surprisingly for international competition, Crouch is more present than Pavlyuchenko in the game's early going (Pav was somewhat inconspicuous at the Emirates over the weekend, as well), although for a change it is not for a lack of effort on the part of Pav. Then in the 18th minute, Jenas -- whose skills are well suited for international matches -- unfortunately goes out with an undisclosed knock, replaced somewhat surprisingly by Wilson Palacios, who has proven himself neither a holding nor an attacking midfielder in his tenure to date.

In the 21st minute Bale creates a gorgeous opportunity for Pav after a set up from Crouch. To this point in the game, Spurs have totally dominated possession. Bremen, injury depleted as they are, look like on the whole they'd rather be somewhere else, and seem already focused on booking their place in the Europa League.

In the 35th minute, Defoe warms up as Pavlyuchenko blows his second great chance after a Lennon set up. Lennon is having a great game, as is Galas again, the latter receiving thunderous applause from the Yids after his man of the match performance against his former team over the weekend. It appears that after his heroic efforts at the Emirates, all is forgiven from Gallas' Gooner past.

40th minute: possession has got to be 70/30 in favor of Spurs at this point. Lennon and Modric are primarily controlling the flow, with Bale making his customary incursions on the left. Meanwhile, literally no one stands out for Werder Bremen, resulting in a rather desultory display so far from the Germans.  Then in first half stoppage time, Modric strikes after a header from Crouch, which follows a gorgeous cross from Tom Hutton. It's complete dominance by the Lily Whites as the teams head to the break, with Spurs two goals to the good.

The second half features more of the same, with Spurs' ever improving center defense combo of Gallas and Kaboul locking down the middle, and Werder showing little ability to create any pace on the wings to take advantage of the agressiveness of Assou-Ekotto and Hutton as have so many other teams.  In contrast, Lennon and Bale continue to wreak havoc in the Greman end, and when Modric is taken down in the box early on in the half it appears set for Bale to end any semblance of suspense. However, Wiese excellently stops a somewhat casual penalty kick by Bale, keeping the suspense alive at least for the time being.

Regardless, by the time Dafoe comes on for Pav in the 60th minute, Spurs have maintained complete control in what has become a surprisingly easy stroll for an English club facing a German outfit in this competition.  And even more so for a Spurs club which has managed to make just about every game an adventure, and which further has managed to keep only one clean sheet all season.

Then, in the 79th minute, to cap the easy and dominant display,  Crouch -- the British Flamingo himself -- gets his obligatory international goal following another Bale run, cross and beautiful set up from Lennon.

It's rarefied air indeed for Spurs, whose style and disposition make them seem right at home in this European tournament. Following their first ever victory at the Emirates, it's onto the Champions League knock out rounds - feeling right at home in a place simultaneously in domestic and international stature that the Yids haven't enjoyed for over half a century.

This is farlieonfootie for October 27.

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