It’s a jam packed Wembley Stadium on the evening of November 1st. The hosts, Tottenham Hotspur, are on their way to the field. The wounds are still fresh, as they go into this all important fixture having lost to Premier League second placers Manchester United over the past weekend. Now they face the Champions League defending champs Real Madrid – another one of the so-called “big clubs” who against all odds seem to do no wrong. And Spurs, it seems, after a couple of years’ worth of relentless hard work of finding winning ways, is slipping back into their former repetitive cycle of mediocrity.
The whistle blows and it’s kick off at the Group H first round match. Spurs have changed their formation from that of the weekend, obviously hoping for a better result. And it’s apparent that it seems to be working. They’re looking good. But the winds take a turn for the worse as Alderweireld pulls his hamstring and has to be substituted by Sissoko. And now Spurs have to unwillingly fall back into the formation that they know hasn’t worked for them. But tonight, as is about to be known, is their night. Kane initiates a move, as he has done so many times this current season. He finds Winks. Trippier has run in behind Marcelo, having outplayed him completely. Winks passes to Trippier, who looks to find Alli in the perfect spot to bundle it home. 1 – 0 SPURS!
Wembley has erupted. The fans are on their feet and the mood around the stadium has changed drastically. The defending champs, not ones to take a punch and not throw one back are now relentlessly attacking. But the Spurs defense is holding. Real’s defense, however, is not. They are starting to open up, we can see gaps in their formation. Marcelo and Modric, Real’s key players are very clearly not having the best game of their lives. The tempo by this point is unbelievable. Time has literally flown by and somehow, Spurs get to half time with their lead intact. A historic win is within sight, guaranteeing a place in the round of 16. Wembley is starting to believe.
The second half gets underway. The champions take the field, determined to show us they haven’t come to play (well they have but…you get it) Attacks after Real attacks are happening. The Real fans have found their voice. Yet the Spurs don’t seem to be losing theirs. Could it be because they are aware of how open Real still is in its own half? After two successive corner kicks from Real amounting to nothing, Spurs counter attack. All it takes is a good pass to Alli, to split Real open. Alli holds, waits for Nacho to make his move, who makes the mistake of committing early. Already the star of tonight, Alli now has all the space in the world to shoot. He does, on target. But Casillas just might save Real here. A horrible deflection from Ramos and it’s in! 2 – 0 SPURS!
The noise is deafening. The jubilation of Spurs supporters and the wrath of Real ones has mushed together. The two times European champions are two goals down. The likes of Ramos and Dier are slipping up. They have been here so many more times than the young Spurs team. What are they doing?
And the narrative repeats itself. The Real engine, albeit kinky on the day, roars to life. A new wave of vicious attacks ensues. But Spurs hold their own. Win the ball and counter attack. Alli finds Kane, who runs it to Eriksen who runs it to the back of the net. 3 – 0 SPURS!
Real have come unraveled. They are running in all directions with no purpose to their moves. A moment of inspiration from Marcelo amongst the madness is found by Assensio, who passes it to Ronaldo, who hammers it home. The big game player scores, what both sides know is a consolation prize, in a game which no one had predicted was going to be big.
And with that, it’s over. 3 – 1 Full time. The underdogs have beaten the defending champions. On the night, they have played brilliant, inspired and daring football. They are through to the round of 16 in the most spectacular way possible. The fans have gotten ten times worth their money. They’ve just witnessed a historic win that is sure to warrant the question for years to come, “Where were you when Tottenham Hotspur bullied the European champions at Wembley?” And they can’t shut up about it.