Ajax coach Erik ten Hag acknowledged his side will be Champions League underdogs once again when they face Tottenham in the semi-finals.
Having hammered Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, Ajax came up with another giant-killing when they dumped out Juventus with a 2-1 victory in Turin on Tuesday seeing them progress 3-2 on aggregate.
Tottenham, who themselves caused an upset by overcoming Manchester City on away goals in an extraordinary tie that ended 4-4 on aggregate, await Ten Hag’s men in the last four.
But despite their exploits so far in the competition, Ten Hag insists his young side cannot be considered favourites when they travel to Tottenham for the first leg on April 30, though that does not mean they fear Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
“First of all, being in the semi-finals of the Champions League is a massive achievement,” Ten Hag told a news conference ahead of Ajax’s Eredivisie fixture away to Groningen on Saturday.
“You know that you will face a wonderful opponent. Spurs is again a fantastic challenge for us, they are amazing.
“If you look at Ajax, or any Dutch team, looking at the financial aspects, we are always the underdog. But sometimes the underdog wins.
“We were the underdog against Madrid and Juventus. But we were self-conscious and we knew we would have chances.
“But then we have to be at our top level. So we are responsible for our own actions and partially the results. So if we play well, we can beat them.”
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) April 18, 2019
Tan Hag has received plaudits for Ajax’s buccaneering style, as well as his faith in youth, but the 49-year-old is not getting carried away.
“Instead of compliments I also got a lot of criticism. When things aren’t going well, everyone is attacking me,” he added.
“But if things do went well, you’ll receive compliments. And if things go beyond well, people start to use superlatives.
“So I won’t let these things affect me. We’re in a position that we wanted in advance. So we have to be concentrated and that is the same for me as a manager who’s an example for the rest.”
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