Jan Vertonghen: Tottenham defender says VAR changes the art of defending

Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers
Manchester City were awarded a penalty by Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers after a VAR review

The video assistant referee system (VAR) is changing the art of defending, according to Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.

Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers awarded Manchester City a controversial penalty in Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Spurs.

"Football is always a very emotional game, and VAR is changing that a bit," 31-year-old Vertonghen said.

"I think we have to change the way we defend."

Kuipers made the ruling following a pitchside video review, after Raheem Sterling's shot hit Danny Rose's arm in the 13th minute.

Sergio Aguero's spot-kick was saved, and Tottenham went on to win the match 1-0, handing Pep Guardiola's side their fifth defeat by an English side in European competition.

VAR is set to be used in the Premier League from next season and Vertonghen believes its introduction will lead to a large increase in the number of penalties awarded.

"I think so many things look like a penalty in slow motion," the Belgian defender said.

"We are not pulling people down but even a small touch, if you watch it 20 times in slow motion, it will give so many more penalties.

"I think in the next few years in the Premier League, you will see at least 20, 30, 40 more penalties.

"I think we all need to adapt. Sometimes you can't do anything else than put your body on the line. It's important that referees think as a football player sometimes.

"You can't even touch anyone. Before it was quite physical, but in a fair way, now you are too scared to get close to someone."

Left-back Rose hailed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris' "game-changing save", adding: "It did hit my arm and I didn't think my arm was outside my body, but it certainly wasn't intentional.

"If VAR wasn't there I would have got away with it, but the referee's given it and luckily Hugo got me out of trouble.

"It's unnatural to try to defend a shot with your arms behind your back and I'm not sure that's something the manager would be promoting.

"But there's not much I can do, I have to learn from it. I can't complain."

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