FEW would have predicted these two clubs to be battling for a place in the Champions League final at the start of the campaign. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) thinks Spurs and Ajax will serve up an entertaining affair.
Tottenham v Ajax | Tuesday 30th April 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
How refreshing it is to see these two clubs reach the semi-final stage of the Champions League. Both were rated as underdogs in their respective quarter-finals but both progressed and the emotions after those games showed just how much it meant to the pair.
Spurs managed to ride the wave at the Etihad and their clinical nature saw them through. Heung Min-Son was the difference maker with his three goals over the two games being a vital part of their advancement to the final four. It’s a monumental blow to Spurs that the South Korean is suspended for this first leg, they already have Harry Kane out injured and that could leave them light at the top of the pitch.
Throw in the fact midfielders Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko are doubtful it makes the 13/8 quotes on the home side probably about right. It will be interesting to see if Mauricio Pochettino sets his side up to go all out for the win considering the players that are out or whether he will take a draw going into the second leg.
Ajax have captured the hearts of football fans around the world this season for their irrepressible style and emphasis on brave, attacking football. It’s an ethos that is engrained in the club and with a squad made up of minimal transfer fees and academy products it’s great to see them oust the big spending Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the semis.
The average age of this squad is just 24, it’s a huge credit to their mental capacity as well as physical and technical output that they’ve got this far. They’ve fully deserved it too. Even in their home loss to Real, the Amsterdam club deserved at least a draw. They won the xG battle 1.9-1.15 at the Johan Cruyff Arena, but justice was done at the Bernabau where Madrid were trounced 4-1 with Dusan Tadic pulling the strings.
Erik Ten Hag sets his troops up in a fluid 4-3-3 formation with the Serbian Tadic operating kind of like a false nine with support from the lively duo David Neres and Hakim Ziyech from the flanks. Support from the dynamic Donny Van Der Beek and Lasse Schöne make it hard for opposition to get tight to them. The two poster boys for this team however are Mattias De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong.
De Ligt could be the best centre half in the world in a few years, he regularly shows maturity way beyond his years and to play in a position that requires a high level of discipline and knowledge it makes his performances stand out even more. It’s quite insane that he is still only 19 years of age. The same can be said for De Jong who anchors that midfield superbly and provides balance and great quality on the ball.
The visitors have played without fear all year and there’s no reason for them to stop doing what they’re good at here. Admittedly, they are shorter than I expected in the betting but you can see why punters would want to get involved with them.
Usually you would see a side away from home first set up in a defensive fashion and make sure they’re in the tie for the second leg. However, with Ajax, it’s simply not in their nature to be defensive in any way whatsoever. A massive 78% of their Eredivisie games have seen 3 goals or more, with 63% breaking the 4 goal barrier too.
If we look at their Champions League record, 4 of their last 5 have seen over 2.5 goals land with all 5 seeing both sides score. Their insistence on attacking and creating chances does mean they can be left light at the back. Spurs could see it as a chance to get at De Godenzoden.
Spurs also have a strong historic record for goal heavy games in this competition. Since November 2016, 75% of their games have seen over 2.5 goals land. You can see where this is going…
I was therefore surprised to see over 2.5 goals priced up as big as 19/20 (Betfair). All four of the two legged ties at this stage of the season last year saw this bet land, as did 3/4 in 2016/17.
Even with key players out, Spurs fans will expect their side to get a win here to give them something to hold on to in the second leg. Ajax will naturally play their own game you’d expect and that should make for an entertaining encounter.
Tottenham v Ajax – Over 2.5 Goals (19/20 Betfair)