UEFA Champions League 2018-19: Rating the English clubs' performances in Match Day 1
The picture for the English clubs was pretty mixed overall in the first week of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League. Manchester United and Liverpool got key victories, whilst Tottenham Hotspurs and Manchester City suffered defeats.
A United win, despite their recent "crisis", was expected and welcome. Liverpool beat the star-studded PSG - with Neymar and Mbappe et al - whilst Tottenham collapsed to Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Defeats for Spurs and City are not terminal for their CL hopes. But they are self-evident setbacks. They have time to recover, naturally. Liverpool and United can build on their performances, of course.
But how exactly, despite there being five more games to play for each side, can they take lessons from each game?
Are the managers or players to blame? Are they to be praised also?
Liverpool did enter a difficult group. They were the finalists last season, whilst Napoli have challenged Juventus strongly in Serie A lately. PSG are a strong side, with world-record signing Neymar, and World Cup winner Mbappe.
Spurs' group was more moderate, though Barca will be a challenge. Inter have a pedigree in the competition, of course.
Man United faced Young Boys, which will be followed by meetings with Valencia, and old boy and legend Ronaldo, by way of Juventus.
City's group is possibly the easiest of the English sides, and Pep Guardiola will be judged primarily on his ability to challenge for the CL this season. City have won multiple Premier Leagues since the Qatari Sheikh took over.
No English team has won the CL since Chelsea in 2012. A few have attained quarter-finals, such as Spurs, Leicester City, Man United, City, Liverpool, etc. But could this year be different? Klopp has never won the CL, but Liverpool would want to do one better than last season. Pep hasn't won it since 2011, with his legendary Barca team. Mourinho hasn't won it in a while either, with his 2010 Inter side.
Here's an analysis of the English clubs' performances:
INTERNAZIONALE 2-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
VERDICT - 4/10 FOR SPURS
Spurs controlled this game for much of its duration. Eriksen opened the scoring, and they conceded two ready goals in the latter stages. But they warrant this rating for these reasons:
- Pochettino made some bad tactical decisions. This included poor substitutions and taking off people who could defend from set-pieces.
- The team showed another symptom of a bad mentality and game management. This is after years of the same mistakes, which even predate Pochettino.
- Kane was quiet, as was Alli. The former was said to be tired but didn't impact the game much.
Despite being nearly men for several years now, and their position being in the high league, Spurs are not improving on the pitch. There are still five games to go, however, this was a sign that Spurs need to progress in tactical and psychological terms.