Mauricio Pochettino’s big game tactics have been slated in the past but the general consensus is that he did everything right at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening.
Past failures, most notably Tottenham’s last-sixteen defeat against Juventus last season, have served as a stumbling block for Pochettino in his bid to establish himself as one of the world’s best managers. Trophies continue to elude him and his tactical naivety has been cited as a detriment to knocking down his first major hurdle as a professional manager.
Last season Ben Davies was culpable for playing Paolo Dybala onside in the buildup to Juventus’ decisive winning goal at Wembley, and memories of a disappointing past were perhaps weighing on Pochettino’s mind when he selected Danny Rose at left-back against Barcelona.
The Rose who used to bomb down the left-wing with purpose and authority has gone missing ever since he sustained a knee ligament injury at the beginning of 2017, but the old Rose returned last night with a complete performance.
When Rose is in the kind of form he displayed against Barcelona it’s difficult to fathom how Davies is capable of keeping him out of the side.
Naturally, the 28-year-old’s impact caught the eye throughout the media, and Sky Sports analyst Adam Bate was eager to heap praise on Pochettino for a smart selection decision.
‘Pochettino’s decision to play Danny Rose instead of Ben Davies paid off as the England international got through so much work in attack and defence to provide a willing outlet throughout.’
Indeed, it would be difficult to build a case which suggested that Rose was not worthy of the man of the match award against Barcelona. Consistently menacing on the overlap and incredibly sturdy in defence, Rose put in one of his best ever displays in Tottenham white.
The absence of Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier effectively forced Pochettino to trust in Kyle Walker-Peters at right-back, but he was left with a key decision to make on the opposite flank, toying between reliability and unpredictability.
In the end the Argentine made the correct call by going with the recently unpredictable Rose, and he deserves every bit of praise which may be forthcoming after masterminding a resurrection in the Champions League group stage.
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