Tottenham Hotspur vs AjaxUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Apr 30, 2019, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
FOUR weeks on from moving into their magnificent new £1bn manor Spurs will host a Champions League semi-final against awesome Ajax in their sublime new stadium.
When the draw was made for the quarter-final few would have foreseen a final four fixture of Tottenham and Ajax, which is a testament to their respective triumphs over Manchester City and Juventus. Consequently, both sides are now just three games away from European euphoria.
Ahead of their first leg battle the bookies slightly favour Spurs to take an advantage to Amsterdam with a home win priced at 8/5 (Bet 365). Meanwhile Ajax are 19/10 (Bet 365) to follow up their fantastic away wins in Madrid and Turin with a victory in London, whereas the draw is a general 12/5 with most firms.
Spurs were enjoying a smooth transition into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium up until Saturday when they suffered a shock 1-0 derby defeat to West Ham. Following their first failing in their new home Mauricio Pochettino stated that stress and fatigue are hitting his side hard at a crucial stage of the season.
The Tottenham boss’s hand will be forced again when it comes to his team selection for this semi-final with a heavy injury list hampering what is already a shallow squad. Furthermore, Pochettino will be unable to turn to the suspended Heung-min Son who superbly scored three goals in the last round whilst leading the line in the absence of the injured Harry Kane.
Ajax on the other hand will arrive in the English capital having not played a competitive game since last Tuesday. That is a result of the governing body of Dutch football postponing all Eredivisie league fixtures at the weekend to allow Ajax more time to prepare for this semi-final showdown.
In their last league outing Ajax enjoyed a 4-2 victory over Vittese at the Johan Cruijff Arena to remain top of the Dutch top flight on goal difference. High scoring encounters are a regular occurrence in Dutch football and despite Ajax flourishing both domestically and on the continent, they have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last ten outings in all competitions.
Tottenham failed to score for the first time since flitting on Saturday and although they will be without key duo Kane and Son I think a repeat of that is unlikely at home given Ajax’s aforementioned clean sheet count in recent months. On Saturday I successfully tipped West Ham to be the first visiting side to score at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and I fancy this fearless Ajax side to follow suit.
Ajax have registered a combined six away goals in the last two rounds at the homes of European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus so Erik ten Hag will be confident that his side can grab a crucial away goal in North London. That combined with the Dutch sides defensive frailties points towards profit in backing Both Teams to Score at 7/10 (Marathon Bet)
In considering who may score for an Ajax side littered with yet another golden generation of youth, it may worth looking towards one of their more senior figures, namely Dusan Tadic. Tadic has been simply sensational this season having scored 34 goals and provided 19 assists for Ajax to date.
The former Southampton man will return to England on Tuesday night with a point to prove and he could be worth backing to take his tally for the season to 35. Back the Serbian to score at 23/10 (Unibet)
As for who will step up for a Spurs side minus Son and Kane many punters will look towards Lucas Moura and former Ajax man Christian Eriksen. Alternatively, I would suggest considering Dele Alli to be the man to do damage to Erik ten Hag’s surprise package.
The Dutch side conceded two headed goals in the last round and with Alli being more than capable in the air I’ll be backing the Spurs number 20 to score a header at a fetching 14/1 (Sky Bet).
One thing that is for sure is that there will be an unlikely finalist in this years Champions League. However, this high stakes semi final really could go either way and I’m struggling to separate these sides in considering who will gain a first leg advantage .
Tottenham have surprisingly only drawn one of their last 29 matches, however, all things considered I’m leaning towards this being a rare score draw for Spurs, and backing Both Teams to Score in conjunction with that is tempting at 7/2 (Bet Victor)
This UEFA Champions League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax will be played on Apr 30, 2019 and kick off at 20:00