Madrid — It was a draw, but it was also a victory for Pochettino, read one Madrid headline yesterday morning and if the Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino does harbour a desire to one day coach Real Madrid, he did himself the power of good with this assured, intelligent display from his team.
Pochettino had made plenty of friends before Tuesday night’s game telling the Madrid media a player had not been “baptised” until he had played at the Bernabeu, and reaffirming that he could never coach Barcelona.
But Spurs’ subsequent performance only cemented the lasting impression.
“Tactical masterclass” might be an over-used phrase, but that is how his showing was reviewed after Tottenham’s impressive 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
AS called it “pragmatic and realistic”.
His decision to play two centre forwards in Fernando Llorente and Harry Kane gave Tottenham plenty of options when they needed an out-ball to take the pressure off their defence and AS’ tactics pundit Julio Maldonado said: “Tottenham came with the reputation for lots of passing combinations in midfield, but it was not the day for that and Pochettino knew it. At Wembley they will have Dele Alli and they could be even more dangerous.”
AS went as far as to say Pochettino out-thought Zinedine Zidane by playing three centre backs and trying to attack Marcelo to the point where his dangerous forward forays were greatly reduced.
The Brazilian full back also wobbled defensively and it was down his wing that Tottenham created the opening goal.
Pochettino may have hinted in the past at being interested in the Madrid job one day — although he has also done likewise with two former clubs — Newells’s in Argentina and PSG in Paris (not to mention the idea of taking the reigns of the England team) — but he also said in one interview in Spain this week that he would happily stay at Spurs for another decade.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is not about to make a change any time soon, but Zinedine Zidane will not last forever at the club and Perez will have noted how he was outdone on the touchline by Tottenham’s Argentine coach.
Kane made a good impression too, although not with everyone. Under the headline: So this is the English star?
Marca opinion writer, Jose Vicente Hernaez, wrote: “Everyone goes mad for this guy Kane. There is no doubt that he scores goals, but there is nothing exciting about the way he plays. I was worried he’d score a couple and Florentino would try to sign him for Bale or Benzema next season.”
Most of Kane’s press was positive though. Kane leaves his mark at the Bernabeu said one Marca headline.
“It took him just 20 seconds to make his presence felt” it commented on his forcing an early error from Raphael Varane, who he would eventually pressure into putting past his own keeper.