Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur, Champions League

Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min will play a crucial role if Spurs are to prosper against Ajax

Shane McArdle looks forward to Wednesday’s Champions League meeting of Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur

Form:

This young Ajax side couldn’t be coming into this game with their confidence any higher. They were the first team to score and to win at the brand new Tottenham Hotspur stadium in the first-leg of this tie.

They have also since then won their 19th KNVB Dutch Cup last weekend with a convincing 4-0 victory over Willem ll in last Sunday’s final at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam.

See Bar One Racing’s Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur betting here

Ajax are currently joint top of the Eredivisie table with PSV Eindhoven with both teams level on 80pts and 18pts clear of third placed Feyenoord with just two games remaining.

They have already knocked-out Juventus and Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League and come into this tie with a valuable away goal advantage over Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur have not had the best of preparations as far as confidence goes ahead of this trip to Holland for this crucial second-leg tie. They conceded a late winner against Bournemouth in last weekend’s Premier League penultimate fixture having been reduced to 10-men as Son Hueng-Min and Juan Foyth were both shown straight reds at the Vitality Stadium.

However, with Man Utd and Arsenal both failing to win, Spurs are now almost guaranteed Champions League football again next season.

The Match

Ajax are only the third ever side to win all of their away games from the round of 16 to the semi-finals of this competition (The other two sides to do this went on to win the tournament). They have however failed to win in their last three Champions League home games, with two draws and one defeat. In fact Ajax are winless in seven games at home (D4, L3) in the knockout phase alone. They have however progressed from each of their three previous Champions League ties in which they played the second-leg at home.

Tottenham’s task of qualification is highlighted by the fact that they are bidding to become only the second side to win on aggregate having lost at home in a first-leg of a CL semi-final, and ironically the only team to have achieved the feat were Ajax back in the 1995/96 season.

A big positive for Tottenham is the return of Son Heung-Min, who was suspended for the home first-leg loss, but will provide a huge attacking boost as he scored a brace in the first ten minutes of Tottenham’s last Champions League away match.

The sides have met on three occasions heading into this game with Tottenham winning both legs of their UEFA European Cup Winners Cup tie back in 1981, Spurs were 3-1 winners away and 3-0 winners at home in that fixture. Ajax of course were 1-0 winners away in the first leg of this tie.

Team News:

Ajax were able to rotate players for last weekend’s 4-0 cup final win over Willem ll and have no fresh injury concerns. Their manager Erik ten Hag is expected to name the same line-up from their 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has a somewhat depleted squad to choose from as he waits to see on a fitness check on centre-back Jan Vertonghen, who missed the first-leg following a nasty head injury. Star striker Harry Kane is still recovering from an ankle injury and this game may just come too soon for him. However, Spurs receive a welcome boost with the return of Son Heung-Min, who missed the first-leg through suspension and will be a massive plus to the chances of Tottenham in this game. Davinson Sanchez sustained a thigh injury in Saturday’s loss to Bournemouth and is unavailable for this game.

See Bar One Racing’s Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur betting here

Verdict:

Despite having overcome the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid already in this competition, the fact that Ajax failed to win the home leg in both fixtures will give Tottenham confidence of getting a result. So a Tottenham win on the night is advised at 23/10

Both sides are capable of scoring in what should be a frantic end-to-end encounter and the fact that I expect a Spurs win points me to a Tottenham to win and both teams to score result at 9/2.

Having missed the first-leg through suspension, Son Heung-Min will be a big addition to the Spurs attack and he is fancied to be the First Goalscorer at 5/1.



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