Battle of the underdogs is the aptest description of the Champions League semi-final clash between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspurs. When the UEFA Champions League group stages kicked off in September 2018, no self-respecting football aficionado would have predicted this semi-final pairing. Ajax was a side whose glory days were deemed to have been behind and which had been reduced to the subsidiary role of a nursery for Europe’s better-resourced sides to pick promising talent from.
Tottenham, on the other hand, had never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League before, coupled with the financial strains of the construction of a new home ground which prevented the acquisition of new talent to revitalize and strengthen the squad. It was expected that they were just making up the numbers this time around. Both clubs have however risen above expectations and are expected to clash in this fascinating semi-final clash. Visit https://africacasinos.com/ng/betting-sites/ for more information on how to bet on the games!
Manager, Mauricio Pochettino has masterminded the terrific feat of pushing Tottenham to the verge of European glory in what was expected to be a subdued season for the London side. Going into this tie however, his tactical nous would be stretched to the limit by the loss of two of his most influential players to injury and suspension. Harry Kane (injury), and Heung Son Min (suspension) have contributed nine of Tottenham’s 17goals in the Champions League this season. Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, and Fernando Llorente would have to step up in the absence of the duo to fill the goalscoring vacuum they leave behind. The trio of ex-Ajax defenders, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Davinson Sanchez would also have to be on their toes to keep the rampant Ajax attack quiet if they are going to stand any chance of progressing to the final.
The Champions League delights in throwing up that plucky underdog that would seize the hearts of all and sundry with their skill, ability, fearless attacking football, and youth. Ajax, under the guidance of the astute Eric Ten Hag, exemplifies such a team in this season’s Champions League. Their 19goals make them the team with the fifth most goals in this season’s competition. Starman, Dusan Tadic with six of those 19goals has been very pivotal in the achievement of such a feat. Assisted by the marvelous talents of captain Matthijs de Ligt, midfield marvel Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech, they will be hoping to recreate the feat of the 1996 Ajax side that last won the Champions League.
Ajax are riding a wave of stunning form presently, gunning for a treble of titles in all competitions. They top the Eredivisie table on goal difference to PSV and are in the KNVB Cup final where they will square up against Willem II on the fifth of May. They have scored an astonishing 160 goals in all competitions so far and have won 7 of their last 8 away games including the stunning triumphs to European giants, Real Madrid in the second round and Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Donny van de Beek has scored in 5 of those away games including the equalizer against Juventus in the previous round.
Tottenham Hotspur is having a rough ride presently as crippling injuries and suspensions start taking a toll on the team. A first loss at their glittering new home ground at the weekend in a league game against West Ham was their fifth loss in their last ten games. However, they have been imperious on their new home patch and the goal in the loss was the first they would concede there. They would be banking on the vociferous support of their home crowd to see them through in this tie. I fancy Tottenham nicking this by a slim margin to use as a cushion for the crucial second leg coming up in a week’s time at the Amsterdam Arena.