The duo rolled back the clock to show off their infamous rock, paper, scissors handshake, and Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping the former Paris Saint-Germain duo can roll back the clock in another way to provide a spark to the Spurs attack.
Currently in fifth place after 25 games, it has been a mixed season at times for the North London side. Beating Manchester United 2-0 at Wembley was huge, and a current run of four wins and no defeats in six is great form, but it still might not be enough for a place in the Champions League next season.
Results like draws against West Ham United and Southampton are the sort of frustrating afternoons Pochettino will hope Lucas can help banish. God knows he’s used to them.
Playing for PSG, he is very accustomed to clubs coming and sitting deep, even adopting the same tactic when they are at home. With the wealth gap between the clubs, they are often damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
Open yourself up and you could be on the end of an 8-0 thrashing, like poor Dijon recently, but with the talent PSG possess, sitting back will still see you lose, but maybe only by three or four.
Lucas joined the Parisian giants in January 2013, with Aurier arriving in the summer of 2014. The duo enjoyed three seasons in France before the Ivorian made the switch to the Premier League.
It will come as somewhat of a surprise to discover both players, out of a possible 114 league games, only started 37 together. You have to take into account Aurier’s first season when he struggled to settle in the capital, plus his ten-game suspension after a social media outburst against Laurent Blanc and team-mates.
Up until their final campaign together, they had never lost a fixture when named in the same starting line-up. Three defeats in the final term can be credited to Unai Emery in his debut season in charge and PSG’s poor performances as they lost the title to Monaco.
They won 73 per cent of the games they both started and helped their team score 21 goals.
Undoubtedly, their best year as a duo was the 2015/16 season, when they started 17 times together and won 14. Lucas managed nine goals and five assists, Aurier adding two of each from full-back.
Due to PSG’s wealth of stars and policy of rotating players with the Champions League in mind, the duo never got to play together as much as they would have liked, but you could always sense an understanding of how to get the best out of each other.
Playing against Saint-Étienne at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in 2016, the link was evident as they took the lead against Les Verts.
In the graphics below, you can see the starting positions of both, Aurier already advanced in the right-back role, as if he’s playing as a wing-back.
When Marco Verratti has possession and turns to face the attack, Lucas shoots Aurier a look, as if to say: “Go!”
Even though Saint-Etienne are playing a back five, as soon as Lucas has the ball, he’s drawing the attention of both midfielders and centre-backs.
Aurier makes a break for the gap between the left-back and Kévin Théophile Catherine. The pass is perfect, he is through on goal and provides the inch perfect cross for Zlatan Ibrahimović to give PSG the lead.
They don’t need to provide the assist for each other, but Aurier’s determination and willingness to bomb down the flanks, and the Brazilian’s desire to come inside and his triple threat of skill, speed and vision, forces the opposition to close him down, opening space for team-mates to exploit.
He may have his flaws, but one thing Aurier can do very well is run behind a distracted defence.
Amazingly, in their three seasons together, only once did they combine to create a goal for each other, but it again demonstrates the potential they have as an attacking duo.
Playing Metz at the Parc des Princes, Lucas has the ball deep, but, due to PSG’s strong midfield core, and the Brazilian’s tendency to come inside, Aurier is allowed the freedom of the right flank.
Known for his early crosses into the box, the Ivorian’s presence has taken the attention of both Metz defenders away from the advancing forward.
Rather than dink a cross for Edinson Cavani, Aurier can slip in Lucas undetected and the winger smashes home the finish.
No matter if Pochettino plays 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1, it’s irrelevant to how Lucas and Aurier play; provide cover at the back and the former Toulouse defender will attack like a winger.
If Lucas is picked to play on the right, he will give Aurier the space he craves to bomb forward, dragging unsuspecting defenders into a narrow positions. It’s a match made in heaven and a perfect way for Spurs to try and pick apart stubborn defences.
Another reason why it works so well is Lucas is comfortable playing on the left wing, too, and it just so happens, in Danny Rose and Ben Davies, the Argentine boss has two other full-backs willing to get beyond the midfield to push down the flanks.
Everything about signing the Brazilian makes perfect sense, and Lucas has shown with his understanding with Aurier he could get even more out of Spurs’ excellent full-backs.