UEFA Champions League: The under-rated brilliance of Tottenham Hotspur's defence

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Tottenham's defence has been rock solid in the knock-out stages of the Champions League this season...

The biggest battle of the season awaits Tottenham and its under-rated defence as the mouthwatering second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash against Manchester City approaches.

Armed with a narrow but vital 1-0 lead from the first-leg played at home, Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs have their task cut at the Etihad stadium as they look to keep Sergio Aguero and co. at bay for potentially another 90 minutes.

In the first leg at Wembley, Tottenham’s back-four and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris were in pristine form as Pep Guardiola and his men were frustrated for large parts of the match. Despite City dominating the ball as they usually do, they were unable to carve many clear-cut chances and were restricted to just two shots on target in the clash.

Riyad Mahrez, Tottenham vs Man City, UCL 2018-19

It is important to bear in mind that one of the two City shots on target came via a controversially awarded spot-kick in the early minutes which was ultimately saved by Lloris. To restrict the high-flying City attack to just one other shot on target in the remainder of the clash is a testament to the quality and under-rated brilliance of Spur’s defence, especially in the Champions League.

While they did concede 10 goals in the group stages of the competition, Tottenham still did well to advance from a group containing both Barcelona and Inter Milan. In the three knock-out clashes they have played since, Spur’s defence is yet to concede a single goal.

Pochettino has not hesitated to change his system in Europe this season with Spurs interchanging between a four-man and five-man defence seamlessly. Against Borussia Dortmund, they went with a five-man defence to thwart the Germans before reverting to a back-four against City.

With Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld forming an excellent partnership at the centre, Spurs’ defence is not an easy one to breach and City’s attack know it all too well already.

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