A day removed from another disappointing draw, Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino is talking about wisdom.
Spurs have lost a pair of 2-0 away leads in high-pressure matches this month, once in the North London Derby at the Emirates Stadium and again on Wednesday in Pireaus against Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League.
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Pochettino said his team “didn’t follow the plan” during his post-match remarks.
A half-day later, he’s thinking it was more mindset and experience.
“We need to improve in all aspects. After leading 2-0 against Arsenal and Olympiacos, we aren’t talking about quality, just being better in this type of situation. It must be about your mentality and your will.”
To be fair to Spurs, they do not have the experience of leading early in Champions League matches. In last season’s remarkable run to the final, Tottenham held exactly one first half lead and it was for one minute against Man City in last season’s quarterfinal second leg.
Here are Spurs halftime score lines in last season’s UCL:
Inter away – 0-0 at half; 2-1 loss
Barcelona home – Down 2-0; 4-2 loss
PSV away – Down 1-0; 2-2 draw
PSV home – Down 1-0; 2-1 win
Inter home – 0-0; 1-0 win
Barca away – Down 1-0; 1-1 draw
BVB home – 0-0; 3-0 win
BVB away – 0-0; 1-0 win
Man City home – 0-0; 1-0 win
Man City away* – Down 3-2; 4-3 loss
Ajax home – Down 1-0; 1-0 loss
Ajax away – Down 2-0; 3-2 win
Liverpool neutral – Down 1-0, 2-0 loss
Olympiacos had a big club in its walls, and the desperation of knowing its home matches will be pivotal if it wants to finish second or third and continue in Europe this season. Spurs scored twice and seemingly expected their class to outlast the Greeks.
Spurs striker Harry Kane backed Pochettino’s initial comments on Wednesday — “He’s been here for six years now and we’re still making similar mistakes to the ones we were in his first year”— so we imagine the team will be behind these ones as well.