Tottenham Hotspur collected a point away to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League on Tuesday night in a goalless stalemate.
Spurs travelled to Hesse still tending to their wounds following Saturday’s demoralising defeat in the North London Derby, and there was an element of hesitation in their final-third play as they squandered opportunities to put Kevin Trapp under any sort of concerted pressure.
There was a fluidity at times about Antonio Conte’s attack, but a lack of conviction and ruthlessness in the opposition box ultimately ensured Trapp walked away from the battle with a clean sheet, and a point for the hosts who, in their last Waldstadion tie, conceded three to Sporting.
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Spurs never looked like replicating that scoreline from the Lisbon-based club. The draw will be seen as a positive given their defeat last time out to Sporting, and the difficulty of playing Frankfurt in Germany, as West Ham found out in the Europa League semi-finals only six months ago.
However, another blank fired raises a more concerning question about Spurs’ attacking play under Conte. They have now failed to score from open play in any of their last four away matches in all competitions. Harry Kane netted from the spot against Arsenal, while their 1-1 draw away to West Ham was the result of a Thilo Kehrer own goal. The only other games were this 0-0, and a 2-0 reversal inflicted away to Sporting.
For Conte, this particular stalemate means he has now won just three of his last 15 Champions League games, with each of those individual triumphs coming in separate campaigns. For some reason, the Italian serial-winner just can’t seem to translate his domestic form to the continental circuit.
There are now some calling into question Conte-ball, and a frustration with the lack of productivity up front. For the Italian, though, it’s not a question of system, but rather of just being more “clinical”.
Following the match, Conte told reporters: “This was a good performance tonight but from the same time from the start we put a lot of pressure and were aggressive in every zone of the pitch.
“At the same time we didn’t risk a lot. We created chances to score but if I have to find a situation to improve then for sure it’s we have to be more clinical. In football you have to score.”
Even so, social media was awash with comments criticising Conte’s recent tactical outlook…
Conte's on fraud watch
— ayo (@lexhova) October 4, 2022
— Fring.? (@kunleyblack) October 4, 2022
— ? (@_sarahv3) October 4, 2022
"At some point he needs to get the players that he's bought into the game"
"I know it's not his way but there are times where you have to be more expensive"@PeterCrouch, @jjenas8 & Owen Hargreaves comment on Antonio Conte's reluctancy to switch formations at Spurs.#UCL pic.twitter.com/zT3FcFJnIE
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 4, 2022