Verdict: Ajax win
Best Odds: 2/1
Looking to pick up an early advantage on Tuesday, Ajax will travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday night.
Starting with the hosts, coming off the back of a 1-0 loss at home to London rivals West Ham on Saturday and also suffering their first loss at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Mauricio Pochettino will be demanding an immediate response from his side. Coming past Manchester City in the most dramatic of fashion earlier in the month, Spurs have shown some minor struggles at the back end of the season. Despite sitting in pole position to land another top-four finish, the Whites have won three of their last 10 matchups against top-flight opposition. With attacking talisman Harry Kane still sidelined with an ankle injury, it will be Spurs’ form in the final third giving Pochettino the biggest headache. Also unable to call upon Son Heung-min who will be serving a one-match suspension, Tottenham have found the net just once in nearly 300 minutes of top-flight action. Although the Lilywhites will enter Tuesday’s contest without a number of their brightest stars, the hosts do hold an impressive European record on home soil. Including their temporary stay at Wembley, Pochettino’s side have won their last four Champions League matches in front of their own supporters, including victories over Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund.
Tottenham were handed a big boost ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax with the return to training of Moussa Sissoko.
Defender Jan Vertonghen was rested during Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to West Ham on Saturday but he was also in action.
Striker Harry Kane, meanwhile, cut a lonely figure in the club’s gym as he did rehabilitation work on his injured ankle.
As for the visitors, enjoying their most successful campaign in recent memory, Erik ten Hag has done a stellar job of transforming Ajax. Coming off the back of putting four past Vitesse last week and reclaiming their spot at the top of the Eredivisie, the Dutch giants are on course to lift their first league title in five years. Now winning their last four matches across all competitions, it has undeniably been their form in Europe that has caught the eye. On route to this year’s semi-final, Ajax have knocked out both Juventus and defending champions Real Madrid, picking up victories away at both the Allianz and the Bernabeu. Hosting the youngest squad in this year’s Champions League, the White and Reds have continued to shine on foreign soil. Unbeaten outside of Amsterdam in this year’s tournament, Ajax have also not lost a European away match since August 2016. One man to watch out for on Tuesday will be the red-hot Dusan Tadic. Already bagging a very impressive 32 goals across all competitions since making his move from Southampton last summer, the Serbian international has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season, more than any other player in the tournament.
Noussair Mazraoui should be fit to play after recovering from the ankle injury he sustained in the second leg against Juventus, leaving reserve players Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting as the only absentees.
Key Factors to Consider
- Tottenham are playing in their first European Cup/Champions League semi-final since 1961-62, when they were eliminated by eventual winners Benfica.
- After knocking out both Real Madrid and Juventus, Ajax became the first side in European Cup/Champions League history to progress from two different knockout rounds within the same campaign when failing to win their first leg at home.
- The average age of Ajax’s starting XI in the Champions League this season has been 24 years and 257 days – the youngest of any of the semi-finalists, and second youngest of all 32 teams to take part in the competition this season.
- Tottenham have won eight of their last 10 Champions League home games (L2), including each of the last four in a row. They’ve also kept a clean sheet in each of their last three.
- Only Lionel Messi (13) has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than Ajax’s Dusan Tadic (9 – 6 goals, 3 assists).
With Tottenham unable to call upon the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min on Tuesday, Ajax should see this as a golden opportunity to continue on what is becoming a remarkable year. With the Dutch giants picking up wins over Juventus and Real Madrid on the road already this year, we’re backing Erik ten Hag’s side to pick up an early advantage in North London.
Verdict: Ajax win
Best Odds: 2/1
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