Walker-Peters will learn from Barcelona baptism of fire
PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 December 2018
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The Spurs defender recovered from his early mistake to make what would prove to be a key block in the second half
Kyle Walker-Peters didn’t get the chance to go directly up against Lionel Messi in the end, but he still had to contend with Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho for a whole hour at the Camp Nou.
It is therefore perhaps no surprise the Spurs right-back made a mistake in the Group B Champions League encounter.
If anything, he was probably predicted to make more than he did and he certainly was not expected to make such a pivotal block in the 55th minute.
Hindsight will tell you Walker-Peters’ last-ditch block to deny Coutinho from inside the area was a crucial moment on a memorable night for Tottenham Hotspur.
Without the intervention, Barcelona probably would have gone 2-0 up and the great escape by Spurs into the round of 16 would never have happened.
Mauricio Pochettino replaced the 21-year-old soon after his big moment and while he was at fault for Dembele’s seventh minute opener, he left the pitch knowing he had not done too badly at all.
A pass completion rate of 90.9 was pretty impressive and he only made two fouls – one of which saw him earn a yellow card early on.
Pochettino seemed to haul him off at the right time and the hope will be this night will help him in the long run.
There is every chance Walker-Peters could start Saturday’s home game with Burnley in the Premier League and if he does play, he will be determined to show his potential and true quality again.
An away match at Barcelona was never going to be the ideal place to make a stake for a more regular first-team berth, but the England under-21 international showed a lot of character in Catalonia.
Walker-Peters, after the dramatic 1-1 draw, said: “I have so much to learn from that game. What a team performance - buzzing to be through to the last 16.”
This weekend’s clash with the Clarets could come too soon for Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier and so the Tottenham academy graduate may start again and he will aim to show he is more than ready for this level.