Don’t blame Wembley for Tottenham’s Champions League struggles

Tottenham Hotspur lost at home in the Champions League. Again.

They’ve now played two home matches in the competition and have two losses to show for it. They haven’t been hard done either. They lost one match because of two awful mistakes at the back and were simply out-played in the other. They can’t blame luck.

Calling the matches home matches is a bit disingenuous, though. Spurs are playing their Champions League contests at Wembley, not White Hart Lane. A corner of White Hart Lane has been taken out as the club build their new stadium right next door, making Tottenham’s regular home unsuitable for UEFA competition. As a result, they had to move their matches to Wembley, where they will play all of their matches in all competitions next season when White Hart Lane is torn down and the new stadium is under construction.

It’s easy to blame Wembley for Spurs’ struggles in the Champions League. White Hart Lane was electric on European nights and provided the team with an incredible home-field advantage. Wembley doesn’t have nearly the same buzz and noise, even with Spurs are drawing in excess of 80,000 fans. The team doesn’t have its usual familiar confines either. There is undoubtedly a disadvantage to the club playing their biggest matches of the season at Wembley instead of in North London.

That said, it’s a stretch to blame Wembley for the losses.

The lack of atmosphere isn’t the cause of Erik Lamela’s bad giveaway, Ben Davies making a poor decision and Jan Vertonghen failing to close down on Monaco’s first goal at Wembley. The relative quiet isn’t why no one could clear a basic cross for Monaco’s second goal.

Tottenham lost their first home match because of two awful plays at the back. They’re ones that didn’t include Toby Alderweireld, their best defender, and wasn’t indicative of how they defended the rest of the way. They made two mistakes and paid for it. That’s not a matter of home ground.

In their loss to Bayer Leverkusen, they were simply underwhelming, which is exactly what they’ve been for the better part of a month. Spurs played poorly because, right now, they’re not a very good team. Chalk it up to the injuries to Alderweireld or Harry Kane, the struggles to handle multiple competitions, changing systems or any number of things, but it’s hard to blame Wembley and call it the outlier when it was Spurs’ sixth straight match without a win across all competitions. Not winning, regardless of the venue, is what Tottenham do right now.

Of course, things would be easier if they were at White Hart Lane. Maybe they’d get a little boost and they’d steal some points they didn’t deserve, but you can’t blame Wembley for their losses to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen. They simply made errors in one and were in terrible form for the other. That has nothing to do with their “home.”