Olympiakos 2-2 Tottenham: No signs of Spurs taking next step - Matthew Upson

By Matthew UpsonBBC Radio 5 live at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
BBC Radio 5 Live

I was looking for some signs against Olympiakos that Tottenham have progressed as a team since reaching last season's Champions League final, but I did not really see any.

Spurs will be delighted to get a point from an eventful 2-2 draw but, although they avoided defeat, it was not the kind of composed performance their manager Mauricio Pochettino will have wanted to watch.

Their remarkable run in this competition last year relied on last-minute goals and drama, right from the very start when they dragged themselves out of despair after it looked like they would be going out in the group stage.

It was a brilliant achievement, but it's much better to avoid being on the brink in the first place by making your pathway a bit easier, and they did not really manage that here.

Yes, this was a tricky way for them to start out in Group B, with the heat in Piraeus, a hostile home crowd, and an Olympiakos side that was dangerous and full of attacking intent.

Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Tottenham were given a noisy welcome by the home fans at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium

But the best Champions League teams are able to deal with that sort of scenario by keeping possession and playing at their own tempo, to take the sting out of the opposition and silence the crowd.

For various reasons, Spurs never did any of that well enough on Wednesday night.

I think the lack of control they had right through the game is what Pochettino will be most disappointed about, because having that is the next step that he knows they have to take if they are going to have sustained success in Europe.

Spurs surrender possession cheaply

While Olympiakos impressed me, Tottenham definitely made life difficult for themselves.

It was disappointing to see how careless they were in the opening minutes, when there were two or three occasions where they gave the ball away cheaply.

But even though they were lacking urgency and looked lethargic, Spurs still reminded us that they have lots of quality in their side.

One of the reasons they ended up getting so far in the Champions League last season was because, when they got an opportunity, they were able to take it.

It was the same against Olympiakos, and in the early stages Tottenham's superior finishing was the only difference between the two teams.

Their opening goal came from a penalty after a defensive mistake but Harry Kane's spot-kick was still delightful, and Lucas Moura's strike a few minutes later was world class.

Harry Kane puts Spurs ahead from the penalty spot
England forward Harry Kane has scored eight goals in eight games for club and country this season

Mistakes stemmed from mentality

At 2-0 up after 30 minutes, Spurs had done the hard part but they still could not find a way to stop Olympiakos from applying pressure.

They could have done that just by keeping hold of the ball better, but it just felt like too many Tottenham players were below their usual levels and, when that happens, you are not going to get the best team performance either.

Pochettino made five changes from last weekend's win over Crystal Palace, and there were some players in the Spurs team who have not had a lot of minutes this season. It showed.

Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli all struggled to impose themselves on the match, Davinson Sanchez did not click at right-back, and it is rare to see Christian Eriksen give the ball away as often as he did.

Graphic showing Tottenham's XI v Olympiakos: Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Winks, Ndombele; Moura, Eriksen, Alli; Kane
Tottenham's starting XI against Olympiakos featured seven of the players who began last season's Champions League final against Liverpool. Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies replaced Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose at full-back, Tanguy Ndombele instead of Moussa Sissoko in midfield, and Lucas Moura coming in for Son Heung-min in attack.

I am not sure that was down to individual physical tiredness, either. It was more of a mental sharpness that Spurs lacked, which led to mistakes being made.

It could have been worse - usually, if you play like they did at a venue like this in the Champions League, you end up being beaten.

Olympiakos kind of let them off the hook when they took Mathieu Valbuena off with 20 minutes to go, because he was their main danger man. Without him, they did not carry the same threat.

Tottenham trying to find top form

The most important thing for Spurs was that they did not lose.

As impressive as Olympiakos were, after this result I would still back Spurs to finish above them and Red Star Belgrade in Group B and make it through to the last 16 along with Bayern Munich.

Red Star beat Liverpool in Serbia last season, and Tottenham's trip there in November will offer a difficult test, similar in lots of ways to the one they faced in Greece.

But I am expecting Spurs' home form to see them through, and I also think they will improve as the season goes on.

As Pochettino said before the Olympiakos game, they are still building momentum and finding the rhythm they need to produce their best performances - we know they can play better than this.

Matthew Upson was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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