Tottenham Hotspur – FC Barcelona: Magical Messi Capitalizes On Individual Mistakes To Deliver A Thrilling Victory For Barcelona (2-4)
Tottenham were willing to take the game to Barcelona from the first minute until the last, but were undone by repeated individual errors. Lionel Messi, never in need of any extra help, gleefully took advantage of the unforced mistakes and cut the opposition apart with his incisive passing and finishing.
Tottenham hosted Barcelona at Wembley with a whole host of injury issues to deal with. Key players Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Mousa Dembélé and Jan Vertonghen were all out of contention for the Champions League clash. Hugo Lloris was the one player who managed to make it back in time, though that would prove to be more of a curse than a boon.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino dealt with his scarce resources by switching to a back four, having used a back five against Huddersfield. This allowed Erik Lamela to come into the team in attacking midfield. The Argentinian played behind striker Harry Kane and was flanked by Heung-Min Son on the left and Lucas Moura on the right. Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama were also rotated into the side in a double pivot, which sat ahead of a defense consisting of Ben Davies, Davinson Sánchez, Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier.
FC Barcelona, while also making changes from their previous game, were in a bit of a different situation coming into the match. For one, they had less injuries – only center back Samuel Umtiti and right back/central midfielder Sergi Roberto were suffering from knocks.
Secondly, they were on much a worse run of form than their opposition from London. Barcelona had failed to win their last three games. Eager to snap the bad streak, Valverde brought Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets back into the starting eleven for Ousmane Dembélé and Arturo Vidal respectively . . .