Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham made a fast start but fell away in the end, conceding two goals in the space of three minutes in a 4-2 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday morning.
Oliver Skipp impressed in the defeat, scoring both of Tottenham’s goals in the 24th and 36th minute, but a fatigued Spurs side faded late as Barcelona lifted the Joan Gamper Trophy.
Tottenham was not at full strength for Wednesday’s game, with Harry Kane, James Maddison, Dejan Kulusevski and Cristian Romero some of the bigger names to be left in London.
Meanwhile, Postecoglou owned the decision to not only “leave guys at home” but also use limited substitutions, which played a factor in the Spurs coming up short in the end.
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As a whole though, the fact a severely understrength Tottenham team was able to push Barcelona all the way and lead for 80 minutes made the result an overwhelming success.
“It was good. First half was excellent. They got the goal but our response to that was excellent,” Postecoglou said post-game, per football.london.
“The whole first half we played some really good football, pressed them and you could see they were uncomfortable. I thought the lads were outstanding. We just ran out of legs in the second half. We had a lot of guys out there who this was their first 90 minutes at this intensity.
“It was my decision not to make too many substitutions today and to leave guys at home because I feel with pre-season the way it has been we are a couple of games short. It cost us in the end but in terms of the effort the players gave maximum and that is all you can ask for.”
According to Keep Up, Mundo Deportivo — the biggest sports newspaper in Barcelona — described Tottenham’s performance as “excellent” under Postecoglou.
“Barcelona found an aggressive Tottenham,” Joan Poqui wrote in his recap of the game. “They dominated the game after Lewandowski’s early goal and were very consistent despite playing without many first choice players.”
Elsewhere, one exchange deep inside Tottenham’s half went viral on Wednesday morning, showing just how fearless Spurs were already playing under Postecoglou’s watch.
Postecoglou has always wanted his players to be comfortable playing out the back and it paid dividends on Wednesday in the lead-up to Skipp’s first goal of the game.
The fact Tottenham jumped out to a 2-1 lead despite being without so many top-tier players was particularly impressive given the way the Spurs opened Wednesday’s game.
Postecoglou’s side had to overcome some early adversity after Robert Lewandowski scored within three minutes of the opening whistle off some silky lead-up work from Raphinha.
Skipp though lifted Tottenham into the lead with a quickfire brace, benefiting from the added freedom he was given to push up the field and make an impact in attack.
Postecoglou was quick to praise him too post-game, describing the 22-year-old as “outstanding”.
“Obviously he didn’t have much of a break but since he’s been in he’s got bags of energy and he uses that really well. He maintains an intensity with and without the ball that makes him hard to contend with,” Postecoglou said.
“He was outstanding tonight. He got a significant knock early but battled through it and that shows the character of him.”
Davison Sanchez, meanwhile, was another standout with an aggressive and committed showing in defence for the majority of the game.
Tottenham plays its first Premier League game of the season under Postecoglou on Sunday at 11pm (AEST) against Brentford