Football Features

All-rounder Cristian Romero rises to the occasions despite Tottenham’s struggles

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 16:12, 29 April 2024

Cristian Romero continues to catch the eye for Tottenham — at both ends of the pitch.

Spurs suffered a damaging 3-2 loss to Arsenal on Sunday, but their Argentine centre-back emerged with plenty of credit from the North London derby.

He scored the first of Tottenham’s two goals and showed a fighting spirit throughout, as Ange Postecoglou’s side almost recovered from a three-goal deficit at half-time.

We reflect on why Romero is key to Tottenham’s hopes of securing Champions League football for next season.

All-action display

Spurs endured a first half to forget at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, though it could have been a different story if Romero’s 20th-minute header hadn’t crashed against the post.

The 26-year-old then had another opportunity to get his side back into the game when he nodded over from close range on 50 minutes.

But Romero was eventually rewarded for his attacking endeavours after seizing on David Raya’s loose pass to boost Tottenham’s chances of an improbable comeback.

That ultimately didn’t materialise, but Postecoglou was nonetheless full of praise for his No17.

He said: “He [Romero] was outstanding. He’s a World Cup winner and I just need to get some of what’s in him into some of the others.”

High-pressing performance

Romero’s goal against Arsenal personified his forward-thinking approach since arriving in N17.

It was unusual to see a centre-back so high up the pitch that they are able to capitalise on a goalkeeping error — but Romero frequently finds himself in advanced areas.

In fact, no top-flight centre-back has won possession more times in the attacking third than Romero’s eight regains this term.

That desire to defend on the front foot fits perfectly with Postecoglou’s high-pressing philosophy.

Impacting all areas

It is Romero’s broad skill set that really makes him stand out from the crowd.

He is a particularly active defender, placing inside the Premier League’s top 10 centre-backs for interceptions (36) and total tackles (57), as well as winning a notable 79 aerial duels.

Among centre-backs with 100+ duels contested, Romero has the third-highest success rate at 68.1% — behind Virgil van Dijk (76.6%) and Ethan Pinnock (70.8%).

But the former Atalanta man is also an ambitious passer of the ball, ranking second among players in his position for through-balls attempted (6) and completed (3).

And with five league goals to date, there is no doubting his attacking impact for Spurs.

Romero has formed an effective rearguard partnership with Micky van de Ven this season, but it is his all-round game that could be key to Tottenham’s top-four chances.