The final Champions League review of the week sees Spurs tumble out of the competition against Juventus, and Man City lose at home to Basel but go through on aggregate.
When it comes to patience, it’s Mr Creosote wafer thin mint thin if you play your professional football in England. If the Premier League handed out an award for the ‘Most Improved Premier League Side’ Spurs would have a lock on it. But they don’t. The trophy cabinet is empty, and that’s going to begin bothering Daniel Levy.
Spurs walked out of a well to do Wembley on the back of a 17-match unbeaten run and an injection of confidence after coming from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Turin. The place was buzzing. So was Spurs.
The men in white flew at Juventus in a dominant first-half display. Harry Kane rounded Gianluigi Buffon but shot wide of an empty net. And the irrepressible Son Heung-min missed several key opportunities. But it was Juventus who should have had the chance to take the lead. Jan Vertonghen brought down Douglas Costa for the clearest penalty you will see this season only for the referee to shake his head.
Then the goal that Spurs deserved.
Six minutes before half-time, the ball broke to Keiran Trippier on the right, and the rampaging full-back centred for Heung-min to score a fortunate goal that ricocheted from right foot to left shin leaving the hapless Buffon stranded.
It was a defining moment for Pochettino and his stars.
There’s no doubting their ability.
It’s their mentality that’s in doubt.
Once again, it crumbled like a drunk trying to do the moonwalk in a dance joint.
The tie spun on its axis in three-minutes of madness starting in the 64th minute. Stephan Lichtsteiner found space down the right. His Sami Khedira headed to the far post, and there was the poacher, Gonzalo Higuain to score his 21st goal of the season.
They did it again.
Higuain turned provider, threading a beautiful ball through for Paulo Dybala, and the Argentine star finished with aplomb. Nobody had racked up more shots on goal than Dybala in this seasons’ Champions League. What a time to score his first goal.
Spurs got out the trumpets. The drumbeat roared around the stadium. But nobody defends as Juventus defends. The Italians had not lost a game in 21 ties, only conceding four goals and three of them were against Spurs.
The closest Spurs got to force extra time – and man was it close – came in the last minute when a Kane header struck the inside of the post, and a Juventus defender was first to react, hacking the ball into the stand from the goal line.
Juventus stride into the quarter-finals for the third time in four years. Spurs fail to deliver, again, and as promising a talent that Pochettino is, at what point do the Spurs faithful begin to wonder if he has what it takes to turn his bright side into a team of winners?
Man City 1 v 2 Basel
With Man City winning the first leg in Switzerland by four goals to nil, you expected more of the same at the Etihad. Instead, Basel did something very few sides have done this season and came away with the win.
City started well with Gabriel Jesus returning from injury to score the opening goal in the eighth minute (his first since November). But goals from Mohamed Elynoussi and Michael Lang reminded Premier League sides that the City backline is breachable.
Basel won 2-1, but City goes through comfortable 5-2 on aggregate.
Results in Full
Spurs 1 v 2 Juventus (3 v 4 on agg)
Man City 1 v 2 Basel (5 v 2 on agg)
Champions League Odds
Man City 3/1
Real Madrid 4/1
Bayern Munich 9/2
Man Utd 20/1
Shakhtar Donetsk 150/1