Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Jan Vertonghen had one of his poorer games.
Seeing the Tottenham defense struggle against Basel was not unexpected.
The incisive and physical Basel attack exposed the William Gallas/Jan Vertonghen partnership to be as soft as a sponge. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been below par, and this continued as he found himself overmatched by for the exciting winger Mohamed Salah. Kyle Naughton's lapse in concentration that allowed Valentin Stocker to score the opener was in keeping with the disorganization plaguing Tottenham.
Michael Dawson's second-half arrival brought some much-needed steel, though by this point Tottenham were still allowing Basel far too much access into their final third. Frequently giving the ball away did not help matters, either.
A major issue was just how high a line the Spurs defense was playing. Anyone who has watched them on a regular basis under Andre Villas-Boas knows this is a normal tactic. Though there have been teething problems in its implementation, it has often paid off by the team successfully squeezing the opposition and making the most of the resulting position high upfield.
Time and time again, Basel showed the success with which a quick team with strong counterattacking capabilities can hurt the Spurs. Too often Vertonghen and Co. were put on the back foot, unable to establish any shape as they were cut apart too far forward.
Changes to the lineup did not help. Even so, this was an example of why a one-track approach to defense is too narrow-minded. Villas-Boas does not have to abandon these ideas completely, but he needs to realize that certain teams demand the Spurs defend the old-fashioned way.