Tottenham host Ajax in their first Champions League semi-final since 1962


After beating Manchester City on away goals Tottenham have the opportunity of a lifetime which would be to get to the final of the Champions League.

The only team in their way of this achievement is Erik ten Hag’s Ajax side who have already overthrown Juventus and Real Madrid in the knockout stages.

The Dutch side last got to the final of the famous European tournament in the 1995-1996 season where they lost to Juventus. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have never made a Champions League final so winning this first leg would put them a huge step to making club history.

Spurs have so far always come out on top in past meetings. The two met twice in the UEFA European Cup Winners Cup and the English side won 3-1 and 3-0.

Tottenham have quite a successful record against Dutch sides winning nine out of 17 matches they have played against teams from that country. Only three losses in that time is a good omen for Pochettino and his side.

De Godenzonen have a mixed bag of results against sides in England. Out of the 22 matches, ten Hag’s team have won only seven, compared to the eight losses suffered at the hands of English sides.

The most recent loss against a team from this side of the water was when Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United beat them 2-0 in the Europa League final.

Tottenham were close to dropping down to the Europa League during the group stage, but since then it has been a fantastic European campaign for the London side. They made it through their group in second place on the final match after they did the almost seemingly impossible and drew with FC Barcelona. That meant they qualified on head to head over Inter Milan.

Spurs have then continued to upset the odds beating the then German table-toppers Borussia Dortmund. Following a chaotic second leg playing Manchester City they qualified for this match beating them on away goals after a controversial decision was given by VAR.

Dutch side Ajax have improved on their Europa League runner-up place last season after remaining unbeaten in a group with German giants FC Bayern Munich and SL Benfica. During those six games, they impressively drew with Bayern twice and finished just two points below them.

Their time in the knockout stages has looked even better as they have overcome both reigning champions Real Madrid and a Juventus side with Cristiano Ronaldo in.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino spoke about history and how this will drive his players on:

“It must be important. The energy, the semi-final, the chance to play a semi-final for Tottenham does not happen often. We are in circumstances impossible to change and we must be ready.

“It’s a game it’s impossible to tire, it’s impossible not to be excited to play. It’s all mental. The energy is going to be there, no doubt we are going to have the energy to play 90 minutes and give our best.

“But then it’s football and we need to accept that football is a sport that you must be focused and be better than the opponent and show more quality if you’re going to win.”

ten Hag gave his opinion on his side’s experience and the difference between the two leagues:

“We had a good young team but a lack of experience. It was a deliberate policy to sign players from the Premier League, with the knowledge and experience they bring.

“We get 10 million (euros) for playing in Eredivisie and they get many more millions for being in the Premier League.

“It has been said that their injuries are unfair on them but isn’t the money difference unfair on us? There are always differing circumstances. Everybody has different circumstances. You just have to deal with them. That’s what we do.”

The hosts have been handed a massive boost ahead of this semi-final tie as though injuries have plagued their season they will be welcoming two players back from time out.

Jan Vertonghen had to be rested in their 1-0 loss to London rivals West Ham while French midfielder Moussa Sissoko had missed the last three games with a groin injury, both could feature.

Despite this Tottenham have one of the bigger casualty lists in the Premier League as Erik Lamela (hamstring); Harry Kane (ankle); Harry Winks (groin) and Serge Aurier (hamstring) are all confirmed to be missing for this match.

While Heung-Min Son whose scored four times in as many knockout games is suspended due to picking up too many yellow cards. Striker Vincent Janssen will also be ineligible due to not being registered.

This semi-final first leg could see Christian Eriksen, Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld all play against one of their former sides.

Ajax have been able to have a full week off due to the Dutch FA cancelling all Eredivisie matches to help their side reach as far into the tournament as possible. Ten Hag’s side have no players out and will have a full strength when they visit London.

Kane and Son are the top scorers for Tottenham with 24 and 20 goals respectively but as they both will not feature Lucas Moura will be the player to have scored the most for Spurs on the field with 12 in 44 games.

Former Southampton winger Dusan Tadic has set Ajax on fire with 55 goal involvements when playing which is more than the Serbian has played. This season Tadic has scored 34 which includes six in the Champions League.


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