Tottenham’s final pre-season friendly of the summer ended in defeat as Roma sealed a 1-0 win over Antonio Conte’s men in Israel
Cristian Romero and Clement Lenglet almost linked up to perfection in Tottenham’s defeat against Roma (Image: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham’s pre-season campaign may have ended in defeat but Antonio Conte will go into the new season with plenty of confidence. Heading into their friendly against Roma in Israel undefeated in their three summer games, it was Jose Mourinho’s men who came out on top with a 1-0 victory.
Roger Ibanez scored the only goal of the contest, powerfully heading home a corner which left Hugo Lloris helpless. Tottenham did have opportunities in the game, although Rui Patricio didn’t exactly have much to do between the sticks for the Giallorossi.
Seeing a goal from Harry Kane disallowed in the first half with Dejan Kulusevski marginally offside, Ivan Perisic had a few speculative efforts that weren’t far off before Tottenham’s No.10 headed over from close range in the final five minutes. It just wasn’t to be for the Lilywhites on a very warm evening at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
One opportunity for Cristian Romero in the second half did give a glimpse of what could potentially come in the new campaign. It was no shock to see the Argentina international in the box after a number of marauding runs upfield in his debut season, but the big surprise did come from Clement Lenglet on the opposite flank as he burst forward from his role on the left of the back three.
Brought on at the break in place of Davinson Sanchez, the loanee got on the ball and drove towards the box, putting in a brilliant cross that Romero powerfully met. The ex-Atalanta ace was a matter of inches away as his header narrowly went wide of the target.
Conte ready to build on ‘good foundations’ this season
The Italian guided Spurs to Champions League qualification in his debut season as head coach in north London
Conte’s wing-backs have been the defensive players known to combine in the final third in his system, not the centre-backs. One notable example came at the end of February as Ryan Sessegnon and Matt Doherty linked up to perfection to open the scoring at Elland Road against Leeds United.
Key members of his 3-4-3 setup, the head coach wants his wing-back to be in the box at the back post when the other is putting the ball into a dangerous area. Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso did exactly that in his Chelsea team and both players played a major part in the team’s title triumph in 2016/17.
Other than Doherty starting to contribute with goals and assists from February onwards, Tottenham didn’t get much joy from the wing-back positions and it was always going to be one of Conte and Fabio Paratici’s biggest transfer priorities in the summer. Djed Spence and Perisic have since come in, giving the Italian exactly what he wants as he looks for his Tottenham system to really tick.
Doherty and Perisic were incredibly high at times in the Roma defeat, linking up well with their teammates, having attempts on goal and finding themselves in some rather promising positions. However, the right and left-sided centre-backs are one combination that not many will have expected at all in an attacking sense.
The play from both Romero and Lenglet will have really pleased Conte and his coaching staff and also given them a peek into what could happen later in the season. It is going to look extremely impressive and rather unique if it results in a goal in the Premier League or Champions League at some point over the coming months.