OPPONENTS Olympiacos Pireaus
COMPETITION Champions League  Group B
DATE Wednesday 26th November 2019
PREVIEW With only none game behind him, Jose Mourinho will lead Spurs into a Champions League match against Olympiacos in a  competition where he ahs enjoyed major success.  Going into the game knowing a win will take Spurs through to the knock-out stages, without needing anything from the away fixture at Bayern Munich, Olympiacos should not be taken lightly even though they sit bottom of the group.

Unbeaten in their own league, they showed at times in the away game that they are capable of causing problems.  Mathieu Valbuena is still capable of pulling the strings in midfield at the age of 35.  Give him enough space and time and he will find a pass or a shot that can suddenly change the nature of the game.  With willing runners in Podence and Guilherme, he can stretch defences and find space to move the ball to one of his team-mates.  Masouras had a great chance in Greece, but fluffed it into the ground and over the top, but he got into the right position to receive the ball.

Semedo proved a strong defender up against Harry Kane and Spurs will need to be cleverer with their passing and movement to get through on goal.  Left back Tsimikas liked to get forward, but whether he will try that away from home remains to be seen, as Mourinho could identify that as an area to attack on the break if a move breaks down. 

With a win under his belt at the home of the Irons, it will be intriguing to see what side he puts out.  A win is the priority with Crvena zvezda able to get a total of nine points if they beat both the other two teams in the group.  You wouldn't think that will happen, but stranger things have and therefore, it is best to take no chances against Olympiacos.  So, I guess a decent team and then he has the ability to mix it up for the Bayern game.   

Spurs should take the last two results in the group to give them confidence to go and win this match, which I think they will do to progress.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    3       Olympiacos Pireaus    0
Hugo Lloris is still side-lined after his elbow ligament surgery and Spurs will also be missing Michel Vorm (calf), Ben Davies (ankle) and Erik Lamela (hamstring), but Jan Vertonghen and Tanguy Ndombele are both back in training. 

Midfielder Papa Abou Cisse misses out with injury.


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Champions League  Group B Kick off 20.00
Tottenham Hotspur  4 (1) Olympiacos Pireaus  2 (2)


Dele  45+0m 16s
Kane  49m 17s
Aurier  72m 26s
Kane  76m 27s


El Arabi  05m 28s
Semedo  18m 38

Alderweireld (foul on El Arabi)  61 



Semedo  (foul on Son)  39
Bouchalakis  (foul on Dele)  68
Tsimikas  (foul on Aurier)  71
Podence  (foul on Dele)  75


Crowd :   57,024 Weather :  Mild, dry
Referee :  Georgi Kabakov (BUL) Assistant Referees :  Martin Margaritov (BUL); Divan Valkov (BUL)
Fourth Official :  Nikola Popov (BUL)  
Video Assistant Referee :  Michael Fabbri (ITA) Video Assistant Referee Assistant :  Davide Massa (ITA)
UEFA Delegate :  Alfred Ludwig (AUT) UEFA Referee Observer :  Hugh Dallas (SCO)
Olympiacos kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Olympiacos Pireaus : kit

24  Serge AURIER 
  4  Toby ALDERWEIRELD     
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  3  Danny ROSE

  8  Harry WINKS
15  Eric DIER  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  29)

27  Lucas MOURA  (17  Moussa SISSOKO  61)
20  DELE Alli    (28  Tanguy NDOMBELE  83)
  7  Heung-Min SON

10  Harry KANE  (c)   

Unused subs: 
41  Alfie WHITEMAN
18  Giovani LO CELSO


    1  Jose SA

14  Omar ELABDELLAOUI  (c)
  3  Ruben SEMEDO   
20  Yassine MERIAH

21  Kostas TSIMIKAS     

  Mohamed CAMARA

  5  Andreas BOUCHALAKIS 
     (28  Mathieu VALBUENA  74)

10  Daniel PODENCE       (97  Lazar RANDJELOVIC  79)
11  Youssef EL ARABI    (  9  Miguel Angel GUERRERO  85)
19  Giorgos MASOURAS

Unused subs: 
16  Bobby ALLAIN
  6  Yassine BENZIA
35  Vasilis TOROSIDIS

Manager :  Jose Mourinho Manager :  Pedro Martins
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Stoiximan
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

A topsy-turvy game that didn't start as Tottenham fans would have hoped, but ended up satisfyingly seeing Tottenham through o the round of 16 with a 4-2 win over Olympiacos at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Having a win under his belt with his first game in charge of Spurs, Jose Mourinho kept faith with the majority of the same side that won at West Ham, but Ben Davies' ankle injury meant that Danny Rose came in to replace him.

Tottenham were guilty of giving the ball away when trying to play out from the back and the players looked slow to close down, so when Masouras struck a shot from the left of the D, it flicked off Aurier and Gazzaniga needed to beat the ball away even though it was straight at him. They didn’t learn from that shock and when a ball down the Olympiacos right saw Rose flick a foot at it, the ball dropped to El Arabi, who stepped infield and hit a great shot low to Paulo’s right from 20 yards that flew into the bottom corner of the net. Being one down with eight minutes gone was not in the script.

The Greek side were closing Spurs down quicker and the movement to receive the ball was not causing them problems, so they were able to play attacking football and break up Tottenham moves by getting back quickly. Having said that a foul by Podence on Rose on the left wing provided a free-kick that Heung-Min Son got a glancing header to. The ball bounced just in front of the keeper, but he did enough to push the ball wide of the goal.  It sparked a period of possession, mainly along our back four, but when the visitors got the ball from Winks making a mis-placed pass back to Sanchez, it allowed Podence to get away. Luckily, Davinson got back to block the resulting shot in the box, at the cost of a corner, which Rose sliced up into the air at the near post and was then cleared.  It was another warning that wasn’t heeded. When Toby put a cross out for another corner, this time on the Spurs right, when it was played in low to the near post, Guilherme touched it on into the goalmouth, where Semedo was the first to react and forced the ball in from inside the six-yard box.  The crowd were getting restless as the honeymoon seemed to be over before it began. There had been nobody on the near post for either corner, so whether this was a result of a move to zonal marking with four players around the ball, but Semedo getting in behind Toby to double the lead.

Within a minute of the goal Lucas Moura slipped the ball through the defence to Kane, who pulled his effort just wide to the right of the keeper’s goal. It wouldn’t have counted as the lineman flagged late for offside. Meanwhile, Olympiacos were winning free-kicks and one was swung in from their left that Gazzaniga got a poor punch on. It went downwards, hit Rose on the back and Toby then cleared after a bit of indecision about who was going to take responsibility for getting rid of it.  While that was going on Semedo was having a lie-down in the Spurs six-yard box and when Spurs attacked, the ref stopped the game when we lost it.

Just before the half hour, Eric Dier was taken off and replaced by Christian Eriksen, as Mourinho looked to change the dynamic of the game by introducing a more offensive player to take the game to the away team. The immediate effect wasn’t felt, with Mariah coming forward to strike a 25 yard shot just wide of Gazzaniga’s right hand post, but the tenacity of the Olympiacos players was denying Spurs space to play the ball through and they were confident enough to play the ball out of defence, making Spurs work to get the ball back.  Eriksen’s first couple of passes only succeeded in finding blue shirts, but getting hold of the ball and playing it around to white shirts did get the crowd behind the side.  Semedo got booked for a foul on Son that looked like he got the ball first, but his reaction was tantamount to that you would expect when you hear that your breakfast toast has been burnt. It took an age for the ref to get the wall back 10 yards and when it was taken Kane fired it onto the roof of the netting. Although it missed, it encouraged Spurs to go forward and while Olympiacos were working hard to prevent time and space, it was going to be interesting to see how long they could keep it up for. A poor throw out by Sa put a defender under pressure, with Winks winning the ball and it ending up with Son trying to bend one in from 20 yards out, but it flew too high.

Just before half-time, when it looked like a tough team talk for Jose Mourinho, Dele was aware of Greeks bearing gifts and when Aurier's low ball in from the right wing was air-kicked by Meriah at the near post, he was left with a simple tap-in from close range into an empty goal.  Semedo's part in it wrapped up a wretched first half for the central defender, allowing Dele to drift in behind him with no perception of where the man he was supposed to be marking had gone. 

The goal changed the whole match, with half-time coming soon after with only a taking to for Winks and Camara by the ref for a coming together. The second half started with a bit more urgency from Spurs and closing down Olympiacos players on the ball very quickly. Eriksen played a cross in that Sa picked off at the second attempt and Aurier’s cross saw Lucas try an overhead kick, but he missed the ball. An Eriksen free-kick then picked out Sanchez, but he got a shoulder to it rather than the ball, with the ball sailing over the bar. A decent contact with his head would surely have found the net.

A free-kick at the Spurs end was played in Masouras and Semedo and El Arabi were both running free into the box, but the pace on the ball was just enough to take it through to Gazzaniga. The keeper quickly played the ball upfield and Lucas won a throw-in after tackling Tsimikas. It could have been given as a foul, but quick-thinking by the ball-boy saw him get a ball to Aurier, who threw it down the line for Lucas to pull it back to Harry Kane, a yard outside the six yard box and the ball appeared to have come off his standing foot before his right foot swept it wide of Sa to level the scores five minutes into the second half. It was a very good goal, but Son’s role will probably go un-noticed, but his run to the near post took El Abdoullouai with him, creating the space for Harry to score.

Suddenly, Spurs looked energised and full of belief, which was in stark contrast to the start of the match. A lot of Olympiacos’ response came down their left with Tsimikas, but his crosses failed to pick out a blue short or were blocked. The referee stopped the flow of the game with some unusual interpretations of the laws of the game, with Aurier making a couple of important interventions to stop Olympiacos getting chances, but when Spurs broke away Dele ran at the heart of the defence and was brought down just outside the area. Bouchalakis got a booking for that and Eriksen powered the free-kick a foot wide of the goal. Tsimikas got booked in the next attack, with a foul from behind on Aurier, as the visiting team struggled to cope with the power of Tottenham’s attacking play.

With Toby playing the ball to Dele on the halfway line. Spurs began to build a move down the left that saw Dele use a Cruyff turn on Semedo to lose him in the box and dink a cross in, which Son got  his head to. In front of the near post, the ball ran off his forehead, across the penalty area and Serge Aurier came in at the far post and hit probably as sweet a shot as he ever has that bent off the outside of his right boot into the net with the keeper having no chance of getting near the ball.

The Greek side tried to make a change in their fortunes by bringing on the creative midfielder Valbuena, but the substitution didn’t really pay off as Dele set off down the left only to be pulled back and then have his shoulder trodden on by Podence. A booking and a free-kick was the result and when Eriksen delivered it into the box, Kane lost Semedo and headed down past Sa and in from just three yards out. The cross made the goal, but Kane set a new standard with his 20th goal in just  24 Champions League games to beat Del Piero’s record.

At 4-2, the game was won, even with Olympiacos making another substitution, with Randjelovic seemingly intent on just kicking Spurs players and grabbing Danny Rose around the face when the ball was in the air. Dele had to get a standing ovation from half the stadium when he was made to go off at the nearest point, while El Arabi went off at halfway from a long way from there !

Stats were thrown around that this was the first Champions League game Mourinho had won after being two goals behind, so perhaps he has learned from the past. The substitutions he made had a positive effect on the side and perhaps Poch might have waited until the 65th minute before making a change, so credit to Jose for making the tactical decisions that saw us through to knock out rounds of the competition.

Spurs nearly made Semedo’s nightmare complete when Aurier exchanged passes with Eriksen and it was too strong for Serge to reach, but Semedo just let the ball go and the Ivory Coast defender had the vision to pull it back to Son, but he had his back to goal and couldn’t find anyone to lay it off to. The Olympiacos centre-half had played a shocker and in the latter stages just seemed to want to go through Harry Kane just to let him know he had been in a game. Well Harry had and it was one that he had won, both against the opponent and against the opposing team.

This match showed that the defensive side of the Spurs game needs to be re-shaped. Dier was unlucky to be the one to be taken off, but it wasn't a reflection on his game, as anyone could have been subbed, such was the poor performance.  Eriksen got into the game after a short while and started finding his targets with his passes and his free-kick that whistled past the post drew gasps from the crowd when it was replayed.  The accuracy of his free-kick for Harry Kane's second was what we need to punish other teams.

It had been a strange atmosphere at the game.  Not buoyant with a new manager bounce nor reverential to the departing boss.  In fact, there were more placards asking for player's shirts than those praising Pochettino.  It hasn't got to the stage where the Spurs fans are singing Mourinho's name yet, but someone will come up with a song for him if the wins keep coming.

Bournemouth on Saturday will be a different challenge and let's hope we can keep them out and go on to win, which will be the next target to achieve.

Barry Levington

Match facts

Harry Kane becomes the fastest player to score 20 Champions League goal, reaching the total in just 24 games (two fewer than Alessandro del Piero).

Kane's second goal was his 30th European goal for Spurs. 

Christian Eriksen made his 50th European appearance for Tottenham.

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How the players did
Paulo Gazzaniga Looked  a little uncertain in the first half.  Made a couple of saves, but at corners didn't look confident and there were times when there was mis-communication with his defenders.
Serge Aurier Another improved performance from the right back and scored a cracking goal to boot. Mourinho might have got a player out of Aurier.
Toby Alderweireld Lost Semedo for the second Olympiacos goal, but played well apart from that.
Davinson Sanchez Played well and made a few good tackles and interceptions to prevent Olympiacos when they were looking to extend their lead.
Danny Rose Played OK.  Poorly dealt with the ball down his side for the first goal and was at the near post but too far out to cut out the ball across for the second.  Tightened up in the second half.
Eric Dier Unfortunate to be the one hauled off for Eriksen, but it was Mourinho's desire to change the shape of the team.
Harry Winks Got caught on the ball and caught giving it away in the first half, but movement in front of him was limited.  As the game went on, drove forward more and got his tackles in.
Lucas Moura Looked keen to run at the full back on his side and showed good awareness to get the ball to set up the second Spurs goal.
Dele Alli Flicks, tricks and a goal to boot.  Dele is on the way back !
Heung-Min Son A good game making good runs and although he didn't score, deserves to be seen as playing well without needing to do so.
Harry Kane Looked stranded up front for much of the first half, but notched two strikers goals that put the match out of Olympiacos' reach.
Christian Eriksen Brought on at half an hour gone and prompted Spurs forward, giving Olympiacos a problem as their previous attacking approach would have left him free.  Excellent cross for Kane's goal and close with another free-kick.
Moussa Sissoko Stiffened up the right flank when the game was at 2-2.  Solid substitute's performance.
Tanguy Ndombele Came on at the end and held the ball well and found white shirts with his passes.
Charlie Whiteman Unused.
Jan Vertonghen Unused
Giovani Lo Celso Unused.
Ryan Sessegnon Unused.


What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Galatasaray (TUR) 1 Club Brugge (BEL) 1 Tuesday
Real Madrid (SPA) 2 Paris Saint Germain (FRA) 2 Tuesday
Red Star Belgrade (SER) 0 Bayern Munich (GER) 6 Tuesday
Atalanta (ITA) 2 Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0 Tuesday
Manchester City 1 Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 1 Tuesday
Juventus (ITA) 1 Atletico Madrid (SPA) 0 Tuesday
Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER) 2 Tuesday
Liverpool 1 SSC Napoli (ITA) 1 Wednesday
KRC Genk (BEL) 1 Red Bull Salzburg (AUS) 4 Wednesday
Slavia Prague (CZE) 1 Internazionale (ITA) 3 Wednesday
Barcelona (SPA) 3 Borussia Dortmund (GER) 1 Wednesday
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) 2 Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) 0 Wednesday
RB Leipzig (GER) 2 Benfica (POR) 2 Wednesday
Valencia (SPA) 2 Chelsea 2 Wednesday
Lille (FRA) 0 Ajax (HOL) 2 Wednesday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Bayern Munich 5 5 0 0 21 4 15 +17
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 3 1 1 17 11 10 +6
3 Red Star Belgrade 5 1 0 4 3 19 3 -16
4 Olympiacos 5 0 1 4 7 14 1 -7

Position before match :  2nd
Position after match :  2nd


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