Sky Sports pundit Liam Rosenior believes that Mauricio Pochettino will have learned a number of lessons from Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 loss to Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, per The Debate.
Spurs fell to a disappointing loss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday evening, with Donny van de Beek scoring the only goal of the game.
Pochettino’s men, then, need to win in Amsterdam if they are to have any hope of reaching the final in Madrid.
And Rosenior, speaking on the Debate podcast (April 30, two minutes, 35 seconds), believes that the Argentine will have learned that he cannot again set up with a 3-5-2 formation.
Indeed, Spurs struggled in the opening half an hour against the Dutch outfit, who dominated possession in the first period, but found a foothold after Moussa Sissoko replaced the injured Jan Vertonghen and utilised a back four.
Asked about how Pochettino can turn the game around, the former Fulham and Hull City star said: “Not to play 3-5-2 against Ajax. It’s difficult setting your team up as a coach or a manager and he will have looked at that, but before Vertonghen went off he actually moved to a back four because, what was happening, Ajax were building through their two full-backs; they had so much space and time.
“From 3-5-2 it’s so difficult to press the opposition’s full-backs. As soon as they changed to a diamond, and they go to a four, Sissoko comes on, they pressed Ajax higher up the pitch and Ajax’s passing rhythm went out of the game.
“All of a sudden they got themselves back in the game so, yes, being 1-0 down is difficult but he will have learned so many lessons from a tactical point of view.”
Spurs struggled against Ajax because of the club’s lengthy injury list.
Sissoko started the game on the bench and Pochettino’s men subsequently ceded possession to a team that loves to dominate the ball.
The Frenchman made a significant difference after his introduction, taking the ball on the transition and giving his side an outlet on the counter-attack.
Next week, Sissoko will likely be fit to play from the outset, while Son Heung-Min will not be suspended for the second leg.
Pochettino perhaps made the wrong call but next week, with two of his best players back to fitness, he is unlikely to make such an error again.