Neil Humphreys: Nowhere to hide now for Hugo Lloris
Spurs goalkeeper can't afford another howler in UCL
In some ways, Hugo Lloris is blessed with impeccable timing. He attempts his daft Johan Cruyff turns when our backs are turned.
The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper's errors are often lost behind bigger headlines.
Consider his comedy routine during Spurs' 2-1 win over Southampton last Saturday. He tried a ludicrous drag-back, lost the ball and presented Danny Ings with a tap-in from a metre out.
But the blunder got buried.
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Harry Kane's outstanding winner and Spurs' fine recovery with 10 men changed the narrative. Victory was snatched from the jaws of another Lloris cock-up.
But the Tottenham skipper can't test his luck again, not against Bayern Munich in the Champions League tomorrow morning (Singapore time), not when a mistake of similar magnitude will be severely punished.
Like his club and manager, Lloris finds himself at a peculiar crossroads against the Bundesliga champions. He can try and play out from the back. He can run, but he can't hide.
The occasion - and Tottenham's patchy form - suggests the Frenchman can't risk any more ball juggling. If he sends in the clown, the circus won't save him.
He's already lived something of a charmed life between the sticks, for both club and country, relying on his outstanding shot-stopping and his teammates' recovery to spare his blushes in the past.
His failed Cruyff turn against Southampton evoked memories of his previous, calamitous effort in the World Cup final last year. The spotlight was greater, but the damage was minimal.
France were leading 4-1 against Croatia when Lloris took leave of his senses and started dribbling. He gifted the ball to Mario Mandzukic, who tapped home.
But the farce became a footnote, a minor blot on a glorious landscape filled with Les Bleus. Lloris escaped censure. The World Cup story was bigger than him.
Similarly, unforced errors against PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Chelsea and Liverpool piled up last season. But they were glossed over in favour of a more enticing plot line. Tottenham's Champions League story was bigger than him.
LAPSE OF JUDGMENT
Of course, the 32-year-old still makes terrific saves. Indeed, his performance against Southampton might serve as a neat microcosm of his recent Spurs career.
He was guilty of an unforgivable lapse of judgment, but quickly earned forgiveness with a couple of thrilling saves. Had Kane not despatched a late winner, however, the Spurs faithful might have felt less magnanimous towards Lloris.
But Spurs' comeback story was bigger than him.
Mauricio Pochettino felt obliged to protect his captain, with the manager insisting that he was the man to blame.
Pochettino expects his footballers to play from the back, at all times. Lloris was supposedly only following instructions.
And yet, Lloris' blind spot was not his fault, but symptomatic of Pochettino's insistence on dictating a specific pattern on a limited squad.
It was about the unsettled Argentine, not Lloris.
Pochettino's tactical dogma was a bigger story than him.
Even Tottenham's position in the pecking order of publicity has unwittingly shielded their goalkeeper's tendencies to go walkabout.
And Loris Karius' mistakes in the 2018 Champions League final really were international incidents, with the former Liverpool custodian's misdemeanours debated at length for weeks afterwards.
The crime is only as big as its context.
Lloris has largely escaped the kind of ridicule heaped on poor Karius because the Frenchman's offences mostly lacked serious repercussions, or his colleagues bailed him out.
Karius' errors were no worse than Lloris' howlers. They were just committed at the wrong club or on the wrong occasion.
But Lloris can't tempt fate again.
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski will be waiting, knowing that the goalkeeper is less stable on his feet than a newborn foal taking its first steps.
There's also a bigger picture to ponder.
Defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and midfielder Christian Eriksen are already hinting that this Champions League campaign may be their last with Spurs.
Pochettino has a distracted squad and competing agendas within the dressing room. The last thing he needs is Lloris suffering with a bad case of the dribbles.
Another silly Cruyff turn will only see Spurs' season take a turn for the worse.