Mauricio Pochettino says both Tottenham and Ajax deserve to be in the Champions League semi-finals and is well aware of the “unbelievable” quality the Eredivisie giants possess.
Neither Spurs nor last-four opponents Ajax would have been considered among the favourites coming into this year’s competition, yet they have excelled en route to this stage.
The Dutch side have been particularly impressive in dumping out defending champions Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
These results have given Tottenham boss Pochettino ample warning that Ajax are a real threat to his side ahead of Tuesday’s first leg in London.
“To arrive in a semi-final is because you have quality and unbelievable players,” Pochettino told a news conference.
“They were big in the group stage against a team like Bayern Munich, then of course beating Real Madrid and Juventus. That describes how strong they are.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 29, 2019
“We can talk about quality but it is a team that deserve a lot of credit. The manager and the players are doing an incredible job.
“A little bit like us, no one believed that Ajax and Tottenham would be here. But we both deserve to be. We are very focused on thinking it’s going to be a really tough semi-final.”
While Spurs were beaten at home by rivals West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday, Ajax enjoyed a week off from Eredivisie action as their European progression saw the entire round of fixtures moved.
Pochettino, having earlier claimed this was “unfair”, insisted Tottenham are not looking for an excuse as the topic was discussed again on Monday.
“Maybe [Ajax are fresher], maybe not,” he said. “The reality is we were competing Saturday in a derby and Ajax had the week to prepare.
“More time to prepare means less risk. But it is not an excuse, it is a reality. If it was the other way round, I would [still] not be happy, I will promise you.
“When you arrive in this situation, the most fair thing is for both teams to have the same time to prepare. But it will be a fantastic semi.”
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