Werder Bremen (A) Spurs show their best and worst on Champions League debut


Audere est facere
Jul 28, 2004
Thread starter #1
What do Werder Bremen and West Bromwich have in common? Looking past the fact that both are initialled WB, it is that they have each hosted Tottenham Hotspur in the past week, each been dominated and outplayed for the majority of the first half, and deservedly losing, and each come back into the match as a result of farcical defending on the part of their North London visitors. Much of the talk before this match was about whether Spurs would adapt quickly enough to footballs premier club competition with no previous experience of it. If one watched just the first half, he'd conclude something rather different than if he had watched the second half only.

Harry Redknapp had publically toyed with the idea of a five man midfield in the build up to the match, and he stood by his word, opting to stick with the shape of the side which had drawn at the Hawthorns. In came Peter Crouch for the ineffectual Pavlyuchenko, Ekotto for the injured Modric so that Bale may push forward, and Jenas for the out of form Wilson Palacios. Oh, and of course, Ledley King, rested at the weekend, replaced William Gallas. Every one of these decisions appeared to work, with Jenas showing pace, energy and determination to produce the type of performance that, where it commonplace, would see him remain in the Spurs line up more often and maybe push for international recognition. Ekotto linked with Gareth Bale beautifully, playing the Welsh wonder in with a succession of superb passes, and Crouch made more than a nuisance of himself to the host team's centre backs.

With Van der Vaart constantly looking for, and finding, holes in the German backline, Bale giving right back Fritz a complete roasting, and Bremen failing to hold onto the ball at any given time, it seemed that Spurs taking the lead would be inevitable, and so it proved when Gareth Bale, put through by a wonderful pass by Ekotto, left his marker for dead and played a dangerous low cross for the onrushing Crouch. The Spurs striker was to be denied, but Spurs were not, as Pasanen beat Crouch to the cross only to divert the ball into his own net. Twelve minutes into the match and Spurs had made a dream start.

If Crouch felt hard done by after being robbed by what would surely have been his goal, he responded superbly, when six minutes later he justified his inclusion completely by doing what no other Spurs striker is capable of doing. Van der Vaart took a free kick from the left flank after Ekotto had been bundled over by Frings, and it was routinely cleared by the Bremen defence. What followed was nothing short of perfect, as the clearance fell to Jenas, who volleyed a quite wonderful pass out to the waiting Van der Vaart. If his first attempt at delivery let him down, his second did not, and his perfect, curling cross was met by an unstoppable Peter Crouch in the penalty area, rising above the entire defence to head the ball past the helpless Wiese and into the top corner of the net. Spurs were in dreamland, two nil up and playing as though they'd spent each of the last five decades in Europe’s showpiece competition. With just under a quarter of the match completed, it seemed as though they should now run riot in Bremen.

Over the next twenty minutes Tottenham did just that in all but scoring a goal. Bale was a constant menace, Van der Vaart looked every bit the star Madrid fans were loathe to lose, and but for some great goalkeeper by Wiese, Spurs may have doubled this lead. Then, with half time approaching, the North Londoners undid themselves in the fashion which we have come to expect from them. Ekotto made a mess of a routine clearance from the left back position, somehow giving away a throw in on the right hand side of the Spurs penalty area. From the throw, the thus far anonymous Wesley swung in a deep cross which should have been routine. Cudicini elected not to come out, Ledley King failed to stay with his marker, and Ekotto, the worst culprit in this sequence of events, put absolutely no pressure on Hugo Almeida as the Portuguese centre forward scored what was effectively and unchallenged, point blank header. To miss would have been more difficult under such little pressure.

The half time whistle blew and Spurs body language as they left the pitch told all. This was not the look of a side who had just dominated a seasoned Champions League side on their own patch, and their fragility would come to the fore after the break.

Within moments of the restart, Spurs were on the back foot. Cudicini had to be at his acrobatic best to tip over substitute Aaron Hunts rasping drive, and following a poor clearance from the otherwise impressive Kaboul, young playmaker Marin left the awful Vedran Corluka for dead as he cut inside and, invited to shoot by the deep lying Spurs centre backs, hit a powerful low shot to level the scores. Cudicini will feel he could have done better with a shot at his near post, and Spurs will feel that, as a team, they should have done better than to invite so much pressure on themselves as soon as the match restarted.

Matters would only worsen as Van der Vaart came off injured in the aftermath of the goal with a calf strain. After his impressive showing, Spurs fans will hope that he can recover in time for the weekend. On came out of favour Robbie Keane, with Spurs reverting to a 442 formation despite Redknapp's demonising of this system as an option away in Europe. Predictably, Spurs spent much of the half on the back foot, Marin causing all sorts of problems, though they will still argue that they were the more likely to win the match if they point to the chances which followed. Yes, Bremen could easily have led had Almeida taken advantage when through on goal, but he lifted his effort well over the bar. On the other side of the pitch, with the match entering its closing stages, Peter Crouch may well feel that he should have been more ruthless.

His first chance came when Bale was set free, a rarity in this half, and put in a perfect, teasing cross to the far post. With the empty net at his mercy, Crouch conspired to miscontrol the pass and the ball bounced behind him. His descent from hero to villain was complete when, with the last meaningful chance of the match, he lifted the ball over Wiese but past the post when put through on goal by Palacios clever through ball.

Before the match Spurs would have definitely taken this result. However, while not a bad result by any means, the Londoner's fans will be frustrated that another game has gone by with their superb football and dominance being undone by their own profligacy and lack of defensive discipline. They have much to look forward to this season with Bale, Van der Vaart, and hopefully a returning Modric all giving reason to be excited, but unless they start performing as they can for an entire ninety minutes, the season ahead will continue to frustrate. All the ingredients are there, it's up to head chef Harry Redknapp to combine them for what should be a tantalizing result.

BBLG's man of the match: Perhaps owing to Van der Vaarts early exit, Gareth Bale
BBLG's moment of the match: Unfortunately, Ekotto's wayward slice clearance. A typical Spurs turning point I'm afraid.


Well-Known Member
May 26, 2004
Only my second European away trip (although 12th country in 10 days) have to say the Spurs fans out sung the Germans massively. The boys were very impressive for the first forty minutes but became too stretched, eased off the gas and stood off the opposition too much.

Werder hadnt lost for 8 months at home and time may show it was a fantastic point. But we really needed to see out games. Been a while since we had a run of clean sheets