Thursday night saw a performance that few expected at White Hart Lane. The formidable Spurs team pressed the forlorn Inter team consistently throughout the ninety minutes. Scott Parker and MousaDembele dominated the midfield with a combination of great skilled dribbling and relentless hassling of the Inter players. However the star of the show had to be Jan Vertonghen, the rock in the heart of the Spurs defence.
I was at White Hart Lane on Thursday night and Vertonghen’s presence was immense the entire game. Franz Beckenbauer re-ignited the sweeper role and steered it into its next evolutionary step which was the libero position and Vertonghenpaid tribute tothis role superbly. He organised the Spurs back line where they frequently caught Inter offside. He didn’t quite drift around and blur the lines of defence and midfield as Beckenbauer did, but the driving runs and intelligent distribution started the Spurs march up the pitch on several occasions. During his first few months at Spurs when he filled in at left-back, we saw that he liked to surge forward but this was often misguided and led to loss in possession. However he has refined this skill and has a much better grasp of when to release the ball to the forward players.
The other great attribute that Vertonghen holds is strong aerial ability, proven by his headed goal against Inter. Admittedly the defensive marking didn’t make it difficult for him but this ability in his defensive position is also integral. If Spurs are to continue their push for Champions League football then they will need Vertongthen to remain in good form.