I got the chance to speak with one of the Tyrannical Overlords (Sean Cahill) over at our SBN sister site Cartilage Free Captain to learn a little more about Tottenham Hotspur and what Bayern should be expecting on Tuesday.
A: I can tell you that Spurs fans generally look at Bayern as a top-notch club that seems to be run quite well. Personally, I’m a fan of Robert Lewandowski and enjoy watching him try to kill footballs into the net. At the same time, I’ve watched so many matches that Robben played in and wondered why a fullback would ever fall for the same move 9,000 times in a match. The Allianz Arena is on my bucket list when I visit Europe, ever since Lewandowski scored five goals in about nine minutes (insert Pep Guardiola shocked face here) against Wolfsburg and that stadium was absolutely deafening on TV. I can’t imagine what it was like in person.
Bayern are a club that Spurs can model themselves after and feel pretty confident about the management. I think we’re honestly close to it under Daniel Levy. Supporters will complain about transfer windows and Levy’s reluctance to pay a huge amount of money here and there, but the fact of the matter is the club is healthy because of him, much in the same way that Bayern is even though they’re the mega club of Germany.
Spurs’ home advantage is fantastic when 62,000 are in full song, but the run of form lately does not give me confidence going into this match. Spurs are in a weird spot right now, so I would happily take a draw against the German champions.
Q: What will Pochettino’s midfield setup be against Bayern? Are there any major weaknesses?
A: Spurs will either set up in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 Diamond. My guess is that it’s the former of the two and we see a Ndombele / Winks pivot, but don’t be surprised if Moussa Sissoko is in there in some way. Giovani Lo Celso is still hurt (death to international football forever) while Dele was saved over the weekend. He’ll be in the attacking band, which will almost certainly be our famed “DESK” attack of Dele, Eriksen, Son, Kane. Erik Lamela might get in there as well as he’s been in great form.
As for weaknesses, may I introduce you to Spurs right fullback, which is just a black hole of suck right now. Serge Aurier got sent off for successive yellow cards in the first half on Saturday against Southampton. The sad thing is that he’s probably our best actual fullback. Kyle Walker-Peters is about back to fitness but starting him in this match terrifies me. Juan Foyth was tried out at fullback in the preseason before his calf decided to explode and he’s close to being back, but there’s no chance in hell he starts.
Q: Why are Spurs struggling this season?
A: That’s the $64,000 question, so I’ll break it down as best I can.
First, this has been a very unsettled squad. Mauricio Pochettino has even admitted it in his press conferences. Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld didn’t expect to be in Tottenham at this moment, but here we are. Jan Vertonghen is on the last year of his contract and, while he insists it isn’t a problem, he was left out of lineups the first couple matches of the season. Toss in a few new players in Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon mean having to integrate them into a squad that has want-away players.
Tactically, there have been questions regarding Pochettino’s setup as of late. The Diamond formation, while having been effective in the past, doesn’t seem to work nearly as well and that can be down to a couple of reasons. First, I think our talent is more suited for either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, which was on display Saturday with Heung-Min Son playing in an actual wing position and terrorizing Southampton’s defense. Second, Harry Winks, while I love his energy and passion, is not a six. Playing him at the base of the diamond is asking for trouble. In a pivot, he works much better.
Then there’s the “fun” stuff behind the scenes that there’s discontent with training, though I usually hand-wave at this because one source will say they’re trying too many new things while another source will say it’s the same boring old training. Of course, it’s the tabloids that push this rhetoric so it’s easy to dismiss. I think there are issues, but we don’t actually know what those are, and they can probably be worked out.
Add it all up and you have a bad recipe for chemistry. The club’s had this before and have gotten through it, but the stakes are higher now.