Ajax have nearly done it. The club that once dominated international football in the 1970s has taken a big step back towards their former greatness. Ajax weren’t expected to do much in the Champions League. They received two tough draws in the knockout rounds, but they handled them with aplomb and sent Real Madrid and Juventus out of the competition. Now, Ajax are out to do the same to Tottenham Hotspur, and they are in good shape entering the second leg. The Dutch side won the first leg 1-0 in London, so they only need a result to make the final in Madrid in three weeks.
- Date and Time: May 8, 2019, 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- US Television Coverage: TNT, Univision
- Betting Line: Ajax PK and -0.5, O/U 2.5 and 3
The initial half hour of the first leg of this tie belonged to Ajax. The visitors kept a high line, and they were constantly pressing, especially in the midfield. That quickly took Victor Wanyama and Danny Rose out of the game, as both made uncharacteristic mistakes you wouldn’t expect. Ajax’s pressure paid off too. After swarming Spurs net continuously for the first 15 minutes, Donny van de Beek slipped inside the defense and put Ajax up 1-0.
Things changed when Moussa Sissoko came on in place of an injured, and possibly concussed, Jan Vertonghen. Sissoko helped flip the field, and Spurs looked rejuvenated. They were no longer rattled, and they got off a couple good chances before the half. Tottenham controlled the run of play in the second half, and Ajax were content to settle in and counter. That nearly paid off in a big way when David Neres was in on goal, but his attempt rung off the post.
Carel Eiting and Hassane Bande have both been out for months on the side of Ajax. Neither player is expected to play against this year. Spurs aren’t so fortunate in this regard. Harry Kane remains sidelined and Harry Winks is set to miss this match too. Serge Aurier continues to deal with a lingering injury and won’t play, while Vertonghen is incredibly unlikely to play after the bad injury he suffered in the first leg. Erik Lamela is doubtful.
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Ajax Player to Watch
You can highlight a number of different players on this team, but I think Matthijs de Ligt will be the most important on Wednesday. At 19, he is one of the youngest captains in the world, yet when you watch him, he plays with a maturity you wouldn’t expect. He was superb in the first leg against Tottenham, continually clearing away aerial balls, and he will help try to keep Spurs at bay.
Tottenham Hotspur Player to Watch
Son Heung-min was not eligible to play in the first leg of this tie because of a yellow card suspension, and he is itching to make something happen. He would have presented Ajax with more difficulty than Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente did last week, so now it’s time for him to shine. Son is hoping it’s not too little, too late.
Champions League Free Picks
I love the way that Ajax play. They don’t hesitate or attempt to stall out games no matter who they play, and they play a beautiful brand of soccer. Tottenham have their backs against the wall, and they have to stop Ajax. I don’t think they’ll be able to in Amsterdam.
Champions League Prediction: Ajax 2, Tottenham Hotspur 1
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