Dele Alli shrinks on the big stage as Tottenham cede advantage in Champions League semi-final

Aditya Devavrat 07:33 01/05/2019
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Dele Alli struggled to make an impact.

Tottenham will have it all to do in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final after losing 1-0 at home to Ajax on Tuesday night, in a display full of effort but a little lacking in quality.

Dele Alli was among the chief culprits as the midfielder failed to impose himself when Spurs needed someone to take the game by the scruff of its neck, especially after they fell behind early.

Here’s a closer look at the 23-year-old’s performance.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Shots – 3

Shots on target – 1

Passing accuracy – 81%

Key Passes – 1

Dribbles – 1

Tackles – 0

30-SECOND REPORT

Initially deployed as a central midfielder in Mauricio Pochettino’s 3-5-2 starting formation, Alli struggled against his Ajax counterparts who dominated the ball as expected.

An injury-enforced substitution that saw Moussa Sissoko come on for defender Jan Vertonghen pushed Alli forward, but even that couldn’t bring the best out of the Englishman. Most of what he tried didn’t come off. He had one good half-chance to score which he failed to convert, and other than that drifted in and out of the game.

GOT RIGHT

Skill

Even a bad Dele Alli performance usually has some flashes of his incredible skill, and this was no different. The highlight was an audacious back-heel to find Christian Eriksen, who wasn’t able to make more of the opportunity.

GOT WRONG

Finishing

Alli had two good chances, first when Lucas Moura found him in the area and he sent a strike straight at the keeper, then putting a header over the bar. Neither were gilt-edged but he should at least have done better with the header.

Chance creation

The total number of chances Alli created on Tuesday: one. And that came right at the end of the game, as he spent most of the night failing to provide the impact he’s capable of.

VERDICT

When the critics contend that Alli has regressed – or at least, failed to progress – this season, performances like this are what make their case. In his first Champions League semi-final, one of the biggest games of his career to date, the Milton Keynes man delivered a dud of a performance.

With Harry Kane and Son Heung-min absent, Alli, along with Eriksen, was the player Tottenham were relying most on. His frustration at failing to deliver was visible, but that’s not enough.

RATING – 5/10

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