Atletico Madrid battled to a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia on Friday in the International Champions Cup.
After Spurs struck the woodwork twice early on, Diego Godin prodded his team in front in the 40th minute against the run of play. Tottenham had a number of chances in the second period, although they were unable to breach a well-organised Atletico side.
As noted by Mike Keegan of the Daily Mail, the tone for this match between two physical outfits was set instantly:
Spurs began on the front foot, with Christian Eriksen testing Jan Oblak from distance in the seventh minute. Not long after, Josh Onomah struck the bar from close range following a scramble at a corner, and the usually resolute Atletico were looking a little shaky.
By contrast, the Premier League side put together some neat moves. Erik Lamela burst through on goal after a nice passing exchange in the 20th minute, and he did well to hold off his marker but could only strike the foot of the post with his sweet shot.
At this juncture, as sports journalist Chris Miller picked up on, the Premier League side looked much sharper:
Atletico are not a team you can switch off against, though, and they showed why in the 40th minute. There didn’t seem to be any danger when Gabi lofted a free-kick into the area, but his cross skidded off a Spurs head to the back post, where Godin was on hand to finish.
Here’s a look at the goal, via Sky Sports Football:
It was harsh on the north Londoners, although they had looked vulnerable from crosses into the box in the first 45 minutes, which concluded with Atletico a goal ahead.
Tottenham started to apply more pressure after the break, as their Primera Division opponents retreated into a defensive shape.
Oblak was on hand twice to prevent Spurs equalising before the hour mark. The stopper tipped Ryan Mason’s volleyed effort over the bar brilliantly, before plunging to his right to get a strong hand to Vincent Janssen’s stinging free-kick. Yahoo's Andrew Gaffney was impressed:
Despite the pressure from Spurs, Atletico always looked a threat on the break, and Saul Niguez saw a goal-bound header blocked with the clock ticking down.
Late on, Spurs continued to probe meticulously, although with substitutes made by both sides, attacking rhythm was hard to find. Mason's bursts from midfield were posing some problems, but Atletico were relatively comfortable seeing the scrappy second half out.
Both Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and Atletico manager Diego Simeone produce teams renowned for their industry and organisation, so it was fascinating to see these outfits go toe-to-toe in pre-season. Each manager will feel as though there's something to take from this contest, as it was played at a swift tempo and in physical style.
Simeone will be delighted with the resolve his players showed against a team further along in their pre-season preparations. While Spurs were unable to secure a victory, Pochettino can take confidence from the performance of some of his young players, particularly Harry Winks, and a strong showing from Janssen at the point of the attack.
Pochettino hailed Oblak's performance after the game, and the Spurs boss insisted he was pleased with his team's display:
Atletico shared the following snap of the goalkeeper with his man-of-the-match gong: