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Three things we learned from Tottenham vs. Monaco


LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur lost 2-1 to AS Monaco at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday as their return to the UEFA Champions League didn’t go according to the script.

[ MORE: UCL scores, stats here ]

In front of a record-breaking crowd at their temporary home for UCL games this season, Spurs were hit by two first half hammer blows and couldn’t recover.

[ RECAP: Spurs fall to Monaco ]

Here’s what we learned on a disappointing night for Tottenham.


In the first half Spurs were hit by two sucker punches by Monaco as the French side scored with their first two shots of the game. Apart from those goals, Tottenham looked steady enough but the correct balance was missing in midfield.

Pochettino decided to start with Eric Dier and Dele Alli as Tottenham’s two central midfielders and it just didn’t work. Alli was dropping too deep on the ball and wasn’t able to get involved in more dangerous areas further up the pitch just off Harry Kane. Erik Lamela was caught in possession too deep for Monaco’s first goal as the entire midfield was too deep and there was a serious lack of cohesion as Spurs had chances but couldn’t control the game in midfield.

Pochettino rectified his mistake at half time, bringing on Mousa Dembele (his first game back following his six-game ban for gouging Diego Costa in the eye last season) and Spurs reaped immediate rewards.

[ MORE: Spurs sell out Wembley ]

Alli pulled off an outrageous nutmeg, had an audacious volley from distance tipped over and suddenly it was like watching the Spurs of last season came alive. However, after that initial burst of energy arrived after half time, Spurs couldn’t make the most of it. Dembele looked like a man who hadn’t played regularly in months and Spurs’ fluid offensive machine clicked out of gear as quickly as it had clicked back in.

It was a mistake to play Dier and Alli together in midfield from the start and Monaco ruthlessly punished Spurs for their early lapses. Welcome to the big league, boys.


85,011 fans packed into Wembley Stadium on a record-breaking night for Tottenham Hotspur.

Not only was this attendance the largest for a home game in club history, it was also the largest for a Champions League home game for any English club. The noise was deafening when Spurs scored, during the game and before it when the famous Champions League anthem returned for Tottenham for the first time since 2011. Spine-tingling.

With White Hart Lane reduced to just 30,000 fans due to renovation work, it made sense to move Totteenham’s home games in the Champions League a few miles across north London.

There was plenty of trepidation about how the atmosphere would be inside Wembley but it was electric. With their historic White Hart Lane home to be demolished next summer, Spurs’ move to their new 61,000 capacity home on the same site is set for the start of the 2018-19 season. They are yet to secure a venue for their home games during the 2017-18 season but these three UCL games were seen as a soft opening as Chelsea are further behind in their quest for a new stadium but are also vying with Spurs to have Wembley as their temporary home.

If Spurs’ first Champions League game at Wembley was anything to go by then their time at Wembley will not only provide them with a great atmosphere but it will be a rip-roaring success. “Is there anyway you can expand that 61,000 capacity at the new stadium, Mr. Levy?”


As much as Spurs struggled to live up to the hype, Monaco put in a professional display. Leonardo Jardim’s time took their first two chances and were clinical and confident.

There is no surprise Monaco have already beat four-time reigning Ligue 1 champs Paris Saint-Germain in the league this season and are sitting pretty atop of France’s top-flight.

As they did against PSG in their 3-1 win at Stade Louis II in last August, Monaco raced into an early lead and when they were rocking at 2-1 up they soaked up the pressure and always had a threat on the break. Monaco didn’t threaten Spurs too much after it went to 2-1 but they looked comfortable enough to deal with the threats Spurs possessed. Aside from Alli’s speculative volley and a few deep crosses, it’s hard to remember Spurs getting a clear look on goal.

Monaco were the ultimate party poopers by rolling into Wembley and winning but they deserved the victory for their ruthless streak and showed their experience when it mattered most. A draw was probably a fair result but after going 2-0 up Monaco didn’t have to force the issue and they still came away with the win. Very impressive.

Premier League social media wrap: Brighton, teqball, remembering Tiote

Premier League social media
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Premier League sides are fully back in the flow of training with scheduled matches coming within a fortnight.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

So it’s no surprise that banter’s back, too.

That’s where we’ll start Friday, with Irish center back Shane Duffy making sure he’s keeping things light as Brighton and Hove Albion prepares to defend its Premier League place.

Duffy turned a sprinkler on his teammates at training, showing that, yes, your high school career has some things in common with Premier League footballers.

How about some skills as Manchester United gets ready for its return to the PL pitch?

Bruno Fernandes and Andreas Pereira tangled with Fred and Diogo Dalot in a match of Teqball.

You’ll have to watch to see who won.

There’s also a sad anniversary on this day.

It’s been three years since former Newcastle United wrecking ball Cheick Tiote passed away at age 30 after collapsing during a training session with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises, causing shock and grief around the Premier League.

His former teammates were remembering him on Friday, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner was definitely beloved and will always be remembered for his incredible goal to cap off Newcastle’s 4-4 comeback draw with Arsenal.

We’ll start with Norwich City backstop Tim Krul, who spent time with Tiote at Newcastle.

Former Magpies wizard Yohan Cabaye pinned an old memorial to his Twitter wall.


Preview: Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha preview, how to watch
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Four Bundesliga teams are unbeaten in their last five matches and Hertha Berlin is the unlikeliest of the bunch.

They’ll tangle with Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday in the latest challenge of the Bruno Labaddia era in Berlin.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Labbadia is Hertha’s third manager of the season and Hertha has played a scrappy brand of football that has punched and counter-punched under his tutelage. That doesn’t mean they’ve failed to find finish, as Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic and Brazilian youngster Matheus Cunha have been potent.

Borussia Dortmund is a bigger ask, though Hertha made RB Leipzig make mistakes in a 2-2 tie.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Will it be able to get a result at the Westfalenstadion? Perhaps this is a bridge too far, because Dortmund’s shown an explosive offense and its defense has been strong far more often than not this season.

That said, Erling Haaland is just returning to fitness and has just one goal since the league’s restart from the coronavirus pause. Mats Hummels will miss with a yellow card suspension and Marco Reus still isn’t back.

Maybe American teen Giovanni Reyna will get prolonged run along with Jadon Sancho. We’ll see!

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin, how to watch

  • TV Channels: FS2
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)
  • When: Saturday, June 6 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Dortmund v. Hertha

Sheffield United season restart preview

Sheffield United season restart preview
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Sheffield United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Blades when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: Sheffield United has welcomed itself to the Premier League and put its feet up on the big boys’ tables while asking what’s for dinner. Blades sit seventh and will hope to continue a fairytale which has them on the precipice of the Europa League. Their fixture list in monstrous, especially at Bramall Lane, but Wilder’s proven capable of outwitting even the smartest of bosses for long periods of time. A name to remember is Simon Moore. The backup keeper and starter from Blades’ League One days could become vital should Manchester United defy expectation and pull Dean Henderson home from his loan upon its June 30 expiry.

[ MORE: Ranking every Southampton player in 2019-20 ]

Tactical analysis: Chris Wilder has flummoxed many a Premier League manager with his creative use of defenders in attack. United typically uses Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham as a back-3 with Enda Stevens and George Baldock as the two wingbacks. Those players have accounted for six of United’s 18 PL assists this season. For more on the tactics, Wilder laid things out in entertaining fashion for Arlo White late last month.

Possible XI (3-5-2) 

—– Henderson* —–

— Basham — O’Connell — Egan —

— Baldock — Fleck —  Berge —– Norwood — Stevens—

—– McBurnie —– Mousset —–

The challenge here is fitting January signing Berge into the mix, as fellow central midfielders John Fleck, Oliver Norwood, and John Lundstram have been instrumental in this amazing season. Lundstram seems the most likely to cede his spot if someone will, which really says something about Berge’s immense talent. David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp have provided a lot up top, so McBurnie and Mousset will see plenty of time on the bench. And the biggest question of all is Henderson, who’s on loan from top seven rival Manchester United.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Sheffield United’s chances ]

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Spurs, Wolves, Chelsea, Everton
Away: Newcastle, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester City, Southampton

Predicted finish: The Blades will get the chance to defend their home turf from not one, not two, not three, but four would-be European rivals (It’s a little generous to include Everton, but the talent is there). Throw in Leicester and Manchesteer United away, and there is a huge bridge to cross for Wilder’s men to keep their incredible season on the path toward unprecedented heights. It’s not just about keeping Spurs and Arsenal in the rear view mirror, as Blades meet the next four teams above their seventh-place footing.

Petersen’s header leads Freiburg past 10-man Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach recap
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Nils Petersen’s second half goal led Freiburg to a huge 1-0 win over 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday.

Freiburg keeps its Europa League hopes alive by moving onto 41 points, one behind sixth and seventh.

Gladbach fails in a bid to go third and remains fourth with 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential.

A second yellow card to Plea was a double curse to Gladbach, who went down a man and now will miss a star forward against Bayern Munich.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Bayer’s Ramy Bensebaini utilized a slick backheel turn to nutmeg an opponent and send in a cross that was put out for a corner kick.

Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow made a tight-angle save on Alassane Plea just after the quarter-hour mark.

Gladbach saw a chance chalked off after two dangerous bids resulted in an offside deflection into the goal.

Florian Neuhaus came close to scoring again when Lars Stindl headed the penultimate move of a fine team play into the six, but he popped it over the frame.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Gladbach’s second half again settled into the Freiburg final third, but it was a home sub that paid dividends at the other end.

Petersen improved his club record for goals when he nodded Vincenzo Grifo’s free kick home in the 59th.

Stindl wasn’t too far from equalizing with a 17-yard shot at the hour mark, but Plea’s second yellow card damaged Gladbach’s hopes of a comeback.