Sometimes preseason friendly matches can be dull, turgid affairs. After all, these games are mostly about fitness and running around a bit, and less about actual good match action or scoring goals.
That’s not what happened at the Seoul Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. Tottenham Hotspur played a team of K-League all-stars in South Korea in the first match of their preseason tour, and there were TONS of goals. Hometown hero Son Heung-Min scored a brace, as did Harry Kane (INCLUDING ONE FROM A FREE KICK ZOMG). Eric Dier opened the scoring with a long range first half blast, and Tottenham added an own goal to their tally. But Team K-League came back to equalize twice in this match with a couple of outstanding goals of their own. The final score was 6-3 to Tottenham, but the match itself was entertaining as hell.
There’s a LOT to unpack here, way more than I can put in a single article. Here are just a few of my reactions from this match, but it won’t encompass the whole thing. Feel free to add your own observations in the comments below.
First Half Reactions
- Lots of good action, really fun for the neutral. There are some skillful K-League players on that team, and the crowd was absolutely delightful. There were 60k fans in that stadium, and they cheered every time the stadium screens showed a close-up of Antonio Conte. They roared when Kane and Son started warming up. Let’s fill the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Korean fans every home match, they’re great!
- Lots of high press in this first half, and it was obvious this was a point of tactical emphasis.
- Very good to see Oliver Skipp back out there after such a long layoff. And he looked great! Great movement, energetic in the press, carried the ball forward a few times. He’ll be important for Spurs this season.
- Early returns are that Richarlison is going to be incredibly fun to watch. You could see his obvious skill in and around the box, and he was connecting well with Lucas Moura. I’m getting more and more excited to watch Richy play.
- Ryan Sessegnon looks like he’s bulked up a bunch since last season, but he had kind of a rough half. A couple of poor passes and got beat one on one a few times. Does look like he’s been asked to hit the ball on the cross first time more often, and he had a few nice ones in the opening 45.
- Davinson Sanchez had some good passes but didn’t look especially comfortable playing on the left of a back three.
- Good shift from Bryan Gil. He’s definitely bulked up, looked good in the press, and showed flashes of creativity. I don’t know if he’s going to do that against better opposition — maybe we’ll know more after the Sevilla friendly.
- Hell of a shot by Eric Dier, and on his weak foot! Just like Conte drew it up, right?
Second Half Reactions
- This was our first real look at Pape Matar Sarr, and he looked… decent in the pivot. Didn’t make any real mistakes that I saw (apart from the two-man wall with Sonny that let in the goal) and showed flashes of some real sauce in possession. Want to see more from him before I make any judgements.
- Strangely disappointed with the crowd reaction after Sonny scored from the spot. Maybe it was louder in person, but I expected to hear the roar from my office window. Also notable that Harry Kane didn’t demand to take that PK; that was always going to Son in front of his home fans.
- Japhet Tanganga looked like he was trying to play his way into a transfer to Milan. Worked hard in defense, notably so.
- Not sure what happened on K-League’s free kick goal, but the two man wall of Son and Sarr completely crapped the bed. Nothing to worry about especially, but Gianni Vio is going to have words with both of them I expect.
- Kane and Son were once again very much in sync on the counters, but interestingly Sonny also had a good connection with Troy Parrott when he came on. Troy played well and had some excellent runs into space. Son nearly found him with one pass that was just slightly overhit, and Parrott had another shot well saved. Think Troy’s set for a solid Championship loan this season.
- Fun to see Charlie Sayers get a cameo. Didn’t make much of an impression, but he’s well regarded by Tottenham’s coaches. Harvey White also had an excellent ball into the box late in the game.
- Absolutely bonkers, fun friendly. Not sure it tells us much, but it was incredible to watch. Bring on Sevilla and Coco Lamela!