No one could have predicted that either Tottenham Hotspur or Ajax would make it to the Champions League semifinals, and that one of these two teams will be playing for the Champions League title on June 1. Spurs have not made it this far in the Champions League since 1962, and Ajax’s halcyon years are way off in the rear view. However, both teams have overcome the odds to get here, and neither one did it in a fluky fashion.
- Date and Time: April 30, 2019, 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
- US Television Coverage: TNT
- Betting Line: Tottenham Hotspur PK and -0.5, O/U 2.5
We knew that Ajax had a great academy and a team full of future stars when the Champions League got underway, but no one figured this team would come together to be so good so fast. Ajax didn’t drop a match in the Group Stage despite being paired with Bayern Munich and Benfica, but most observers assumed defending champions Real Madrid would send them out in the Round of 16. Instead, Ajax overcame the odds and wiped out a 2-1 home loss with a 4-1 thrashing of the Spanish giants in Madrid to move on. There, they took on perennial Serie A winners Juventus and won 2-1 in Turin to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in Italy for the last month of the season.
Tottenham answered the bell after a dismal start to their campaign. Spurs had two losses and one draw through the first round robin off the group stage, but they roared back with wins over PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan and secured a stunning draw against Barcelona to advance over Inter by a tiebreaker. Spurs cruised to a 4-0 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16, and then they stunned Manchester City in the quarterfinals to move on.
Ajax have some real questions along their back line entering this game. The Dutch side will be without left back Noussair Mazraoui because of an ankle injury, and right back Nicolas Tagliafico is doubtful because of a knee injury. Fortunately, they have Daley Blind and Matthjis de Ligt in the center of the back line to hold things up. Carel Eiting, Hassane Bande, and Zakaria El Azzouzi are all long-term injuries.
Harry Kane suffered another ankle injury in the first leg of Spurs tie against Manchester City, and its unlikely he will be able to return for either leg of this one. Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko are both going to miss at least the first leg here, while Harry Winks and Erik Lamela are questionable.
Tottenham Hotspur Player to Watch
Son Heung-min has had an incredible year for Spurs. He has had to fill Kane’s void twice this season, and he has done it with aplomb both times. Son knocked in three of Spurs’ four goals against Manchester City in the quarterfinals, and his work ethic has led to a few goals that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
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Ajax Player to Watch
Frenkie de Jong has come a long way from the player that was sold for €1. This offseason, he will move to Barcelona for a reported €75 million transfer fee, and when you watch him play, you see that he warrants the money. He is brilliant at getting the ball to his playmakers in good positions, and while he doesn’t have a goal or an assist, his impact is felt throughout a match.
Champions League Free Picks
I think Ajax’s talented youth will triumph here after a weekend to rest up for this match. I’m a bit concerned about the outside backs, but I see them adjusting and picking up another huge road win.
Champions League Prediction: Ajax 2, Tottenham Hotspur
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