Training fields

Antonio Conte places Lucas Moura at Spurs full-back: ‘It’s a good option’

Tottenham continued their pre-season on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Sevilla at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in South Korea.

Here, Athleticism breaks down the key themes that stood out from the game – after which head coach Antonio Conte said he hoped defender Ben Davies’ ankle injury was “nothing too serious”.


Conte sees Moura as a full-back option

Since Conte took over last November, the question of Victor Moses has lingered: who will the head coach convert to a winger, as he did the former winger back when he was in charge from Chelsea?

The obvious candidates were the now deceased Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura, who could both move from winger to full-back under Conte’s tutelage.

Conte had resisted both – the same with Dejan Kulusevski, January’s signing who he thought could play there – until the second half of Wednesday’s opening pre-season game against the K League side. in Seoul and then here in Suwon today (Saturday), when he gave Moura the start in the friendly match against Spanish club Sevilla.

It was an interesting move, given that the imminent signing of Djed Spence from Middlesbrough means Spurs will soon have three real right-backs on the books. Although in fairness, Matt Doherty had to play on the left in the second half due to the continued unavailability of new signing Ivan Perisic.

With Emerson Royal set to leave after just a year in north London, Spurs will soon have Spence, who helped Nottingham Forest win promotion to the Premier League on loan last season, and Doherty as main options for the job. . But could Moura also do a job there?

He certainly did enough against Sevilla to suggest, as many have expected, that he has a number of attributes required to be an option at the back – impressing his head coach in the process (more on that). topic later).

The Brazilian is good in the air and showed impressive defensive awareness to make an important header at the back post early in the game. In general, he held his position well in what was a flat back five when Sevilla had possession, and was diligent in following Lucas Ocampos’ runs.

He didn’t have too many chances to advance, then when he did midway through the first half he showed good pace to overlap only to throw a cross straight into the keeper’s arms Marko Dmitrovic.

And it will always be the question mark around Moura in this position, even with The Wing-Back Whisperer training him, he can be quite accurate with his last ball.

Still, that appears to be another option for Conte in a 2022-23 season where five substitutions per Premier League game, a restricted schedule due to the World Cup in November and December and six crammed-in Champions League group games eight weeks from early September means he’ll need as much as he can find.

And despite Spence’s huge potential, it may take some time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League, while Doherty recovers from a fairly serious knee injury that ended his season at mid-April.

After Saturday’s match, Conte described Moura as “a good option in the position” and added as a comparison that “in the past with Perisic, Moses and (Inter Milan’s Antonio) Candreva it was the same: forward, a winger, and became a fullback.

Expanding on his praise for Moura, Conte added: “He definitely has great quality. I spoke with Lucas and I think it will be a good option for me. The most important thing is that the player must be 100% sure to do so. Moura is a great resource. He can play in many roles – behind the striker, left and right, as a full-back.

“I am very happy with his commitment to training. And I think tonight he played a good game.


Kulusevski reminds us why the Spurs duo are now a trio

Conte started against Sevilla with new signing Richarlison on the right, alongside Tottenham stalwarts – Harry Kane in the middle and Son Heung-min on the left.

Richarlison would prefer to play on the left or in the middle, but if he wants to play with rather than in place of Kane and Son, this right side is where he is likely to be stationed.

The Brazil international had some good moments in the first half and worked hard to win the ball back a few times, but it was clear he wasn’t quite on the same page as Kane and His.

These are the early days after his move from Everton, of course, and that understanding will surely grow, and the way Richarlison plays maybe his relationship with Kane and Son is different from how they fit in with the Kulusevski more technical.

It was striking when Kulusevski replaced Richarlison at halftime how automatic the agreement is between him, Kane and Son.

You got a bit of the impression that Kulusevski wanted to remind everyone that the right wing position is his and show us all that he’s in no mood to give it up. Yes football is a team game these days and yes every player will always say they welcome competition from new signings but they also want to make sure that for the bigger games they are very difficult to ignore when the manager fills out his team roster.

Kulusevski’s movement is less explosive than Richarlison’s, but he’s so clever in the way he drifts through space.

Within three minutes of arriving, he was dispatched by Son after Kane fell brilliantly into space and fed a pass to the Korean. The resulting shot from Kulusevski was weak but that move was the most consistent Spurs had watched all night up to this point.

Two minutes later he brilliantly kept the ball in a tight area deep in his own half, and Kane quickly had it in the Sevilla net after good work from Rodrigo Bentancur and Son.

Kulusveski almost added a second himself but a curled shot from the edge of the box drifted just wide.

Either way, having started Tottenham’s week here with a minor calf problem, it was a positive way for Kulusevski to end the tour and remind everyone how important he is to their attack.


Hojbjerg fails to make his point

Given the huge and tight competition for a place in Conte’s midfield for the upcoming season, these pre-season warm-up games are important opportunities for candidates to impress.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will have been disappointed, then, with an off-key performance here.

He played a few loose passes and almost gave Rafa Mir a goal shortly before half-time. Fortunately, Eric Dier was there to do enough to discourage the old boy from Wolves and Nottingham Forest.

It was a similar story minutes later, when another stray pass from the Dane required a tackle from Oliver Skipp to keep Spurs level.

Skipp outdid Hojbjerg in both this game and against Team K League to impress Conte. And with Bentancur still looking classy when he also entered the second half, and new signing Yves Bissouma soon to return from COVID-19, the former Southampton man could find his previously untouchable place in the starting line-up of Tottenham. the past.

(Photo: Getty Images)


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