Tottenham Hotspur will face the reigning champions from Italy, Juventus FC, for their ICC friendly match in Singapore.
Loyal Spurs supporters will know that it has been decades since they last stepped foot here in Singapore. Their last visit was in 1995 when they played a friendly game against our national team.
Think about it: the last time Spurs visited Singapore in 1995, Blackburn Rovers were the champions in the Premier League, Michael Jordan came out of retirement from the National Basketball Association (NBA), the first Toy Story movie was released, Goh Chok Tong was Prime Minister of Singapore, and midfielder Dele Alli was not even born yet.
2018/2019 Season Summary
At the beginning of the season, Mauricio Pochettino’s future as Spurs’ coach was thrown into question. And despite signing a contract extension, Real Madrid is cranking up their interest in the Argentinian.
What is it with Real Madrid being linked with every decent manager and player on the planet?
I digress. Pochettino, however, had other plans – he wanted to knuckle down and focus on his job. Ultimately, he saved Spurs’ season from a catastrophic ending.
The club was in disarray. Spurs had opted not to make any investments in last summer’s transfer window, and they had multiple injuries and unfit players to kick-start their season. Spurs had nine players involved in last year’s World Cup Semi-Finals – more than any other club in the world – and striker Harry Kane’s two ankle injuries amongst many other issues threatened to derail Spurs’ entire season.
Still, Pochettino’s men stayed in contention of the Premier League title race and were comfortably in third place at one point – a testament to Pochettino’s tactical acumen and his ability to garner the best out of his players, who displayed tremendous grit and resilience in spite of being counted out continuously by analysts.
The injury inflicted on their talismanic forward, Harry Kane, somehow led to the emergence and development of wingers Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura. Arguably, Son enjoyed the best spell in his career with the Lilywhites. Meanwhile, midfielder Moussa Sissoko somehow rose to prominence as a lynchpin in the midfield – many amongst the legion of Spurs fans considered him the player of the season.
Spurs’ see-saw of a season saw them finish the Premier League season taking only 11 points out of a possible 36 – including an unacceptable six consecutive losses away from home. But in between that horrendous stretch, they somehow found it in themselves to snatch stunning results in the Champions League.
Their path to the Champions League finals was tougher than Liverpool’s: Spurs went up against Barcelona, PSV, and Inter Milan during the group stages. In fact, they lost their opening two games against Inter and Barcelona, which made their qualification into the knockout stages even more unlikely.
They even had to go up against German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund (BVB), sensationally edged the eventual Premier League Champions, Manchester City, and clawed mightily past the dark horses of the tournament, Ajax.
Tottenham Hotspur does not like to get things done easily. Quite simply put, they are a bunch of masochists and warriors all at once.
If you needed two games to encapsulate Spurs’ entire season, these would be it: Spurs’ comeback in the Champions League Semi-Finals against Ajax.
They were utterly outclassed in the first-leg at home and also the first half of the second leg; the youthful exuberance of the Ajax squad seemingly overwhelming Spurs in every department of the pitch, whether it is covering every blade of the field or stringing metronomic passes to slice up their defence.
But all is not lost, for Spurs’ team thrives in adversity.
Astonishingly against all the odds and as though they were clapping back thunderously at all their naysayers, Spurs rebounded on the back of Lucas Moura’s hat-trick. So unlikely was the triumph – and so emotional – that Pochettino and his men were rendered speechless at the end of the game.
Alas, the Champions League Finals arrived, and even though Spurs dominated Liverpool for large portions of the game, they could not get the job done and lost 2-0. Harry Kane recovered in time for the game, and Lucas, the man in form, was disappointingly benched for the skipper.
For Spurs, this season was like finding a treasure chest that they never expected – only to lose some of it. Sure, the loss in the finals felt devastating, but they still qualified for next season’s Champions League. The club has newfound depth within their squad, and the architect of their team’s success – Pochettino – is fully committed to overseeing Spurs’ future.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Key Players: Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen
Gone are the days where viewers all over the world questioned Harry Kane’s footballing abilities. Labels like “one season wonder” have since been debunked after he plundered in goals after goals (125 for Spurs and 22 for England). Kane has since received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from the Queen of the United Kingdom for his contributions during England’s glorious World Cup run.
Much to the delight of the fans, Kane has also consistently pledged his loyalty and allegiances with Spurs. When he is not stricken with injuries, Harry Kane is undoubtedly one of the world’s most devastating attackers.
The uncertainty with Kane lies with his long history with injuries to his ankle. He must find a way to stay fit and injury-free, lest the promising trajectory of his career gets curtailed.
Son’s emergence as one of the world’s most exciting forwards has to be a tantalising thought to Pochettino. With his blistering pace and eye for spectacular goals, the South Korean will play an integral part in supporting Harry Kane, or filling in for him if he is unfit.
The creative brain behind Spurs’ attacks, however, is Christian Eriksen. Much to the chagrin and dismay of Spurs’ fans, Eriksen has declared himself to be open to a transfer. If he decides to bolt for a new team this summer, Spurs will have to pay a premium fee to replace their orchestrator on the pitch.
Positions of need for Tottenham Hotspur
Pochettino has never been the sort of manager that splurges excessively in the market for players that are already ‘stars’. He has a penchant for developing young players like Dele Alli, for example.
They could inject some reinforcements in midfield. Olympique Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele has been linked with a transfer to Spurs, and he has recently even flirted with the idea when he said: “It’s true that Tottenham are a great team – a big club. Which player would not be interested in a big club?”
Going head to head with Juventus
Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur have only played against each other twice – both games were played in the knockout stages of the Champions League’s 2017/2018 season.
Juventus edged out that matchup by an aggregate score of 4-3.
There have not been many notable transfers between both clubs in the past, though there have been speculations of Juventus’ interest in acquiring Spurs’ buccaneering right-back Kieran Trippier and midfield extraordinaire Christian Eriksen.
Photos courtesy of International Champions Cup Singapore and Andrii Podilnyk.