Talking Tactics

How Bentancur balances Spurs' defence and attack

By Adrian Clarke 21 Jan 2023

Adrian Clarke explains why the fit-again Uruguayan will be their most important player at Fulham

Related Articles
Team news ahead of Fulham clash on Monday night External Link
Flashback: Spurs stun Fulham at the Cottage

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 21.

Rodrigo Bentancur (TOT)

Tottenham Hotspur are a stronger side on and off the ball with Bentancur in their line-up, so the Uruguayan’s return from injury is a big boost for Antonio Conte.

TV Info

The 25-year-old featured for 75 minutes in his first appearance since the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Thursday night’s defeat at Manchester City.

He should start against Fulham at Craven Cottage, and his presence alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be welcome as Spurs are likely to go up against a midfield trip of Joao Palhinha, Harrison Reed and Andreas Pereira.

Protecting the back three

Spurs' defensive players are in poor form, having conceded at least twice in nine of their last 10 Premier League matches.

Bentancur, who missed four matches prior to his return, does offer reliable protection in the centre of the pitch.

He is a mobile, intelligent and aggressive box-to-box midfielder who breaks up play better than any other Spurs player.

His ball-winning qualities should help Conte’s side assert better control than we have seen of late.

Bentancur's defensive stats
2022/23 Per 90 Spurs rank*
Possession won 7.7 1st
Tackles 2.6 1st
Tackles won 1.6 1st
Blocks 1.0 1st

*Minimum 10 starts

Bentancur made an immediate impression against Man City, forcing a mistake from Rodri for Spurs' opener.

His late sprint to press the Spaniard on the edge of his own box from an Ederson pass was hugely effective, as Rodri’s rushed pass fell to Dejan Kulusevski to score.

It was a similar move to Bentancur's high press to dispossess Wilfred Ndidi and run on to score in a 6-2 win over Leicester City earlier this season.

Spurs' best pressers
Player Mins. played Pressures Pressures/90
Richarlison 469 191 36.7
Kulusevski 882 296 30.2
Bentancur 1259 330 23.6
Son 1485 379 23.0
Sessegnon 800 168 18.9

On average, Bentancur makes 23.6 pressures per match.

In central midfield he is the hardest working Spurs player to close down space for opponents.

Goalscoring midfielder

Bentancur is also a goal threat, scoring four goals in 14 starts.

He has netted late winners against AFC Bournemouth and Leeds United, while in October he headed a vital equaliser against Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League.

Interestingly, five of his six direct goal involvements in the Premier League this season have come after the 72nd minute.

Best shot converters 2022/23
Conversion rate (%) Shot accuracy (%)
Summerville 57.1 Bentancur 77.8
Bentancur 44.4 Firmino 76.9
Gross 42.9 Trossard 72.0
Haaland 37.3 Summerville 71.4
Alvarez 36.4 Gross 71.4

*Minimum four goals

Bentancur likes to arrive late in the box, and when presented with an opportunity to score he is extremely cool-headed.

No player who has scored at least four goals this season hits the target with a greater percentage of their shots than he does.

And his conversion rate is also the second best in the division from players who fit the same criteria.

When Spurs push Fulham back on Monday, look out for Bentancur sniffing around for a half-chance to fall his way.

His finishing ability can ease the burden on Harry Kane, Kulusevski and Son Heung-min.

Spurs will be delighted to have such a rounded and versatile central midfielder available for selection.

Also in this series

Part 1: Mudryk offers quick answer to Chelsea's goal-shy attack
Part 2: How Zinchenko's roaming role can stretch Man Utd

Latest Videos

More Videos