Champions League: 3 reasons why Ajax will beat Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final
Ajax have been the real underdogs in this year's Champions League, but they have exceeded expectations and unexpectedly beaten two favorites for the title - Real Madrid and Juventus in back to back fixtures.
The young guns from Amsterdam are not only winning the big games but doing it in some style. They are not playing negative football to scrape out a win, but are unleashing and expressing themselves on the field against much-experienced oppositions and much bigger clubs.
When they lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid in the Round of 16 in the Johan Cruyff Arena, everyone thought it was over for the young Ajax team, as Madrid would oust them at the Bernabeu. But they shocked the whole of Europe by destroying Madrid 4-1 in their own backyard, and with some really amazing style of football.
When Ajax drew Juventus in the next round, there were many who still believed in the club's chances even if the team was going to face Mr. Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Dutch club had an average game in Amsterdam where they drew 1-1 with the Old Lady, so all eyes were going to be on the reverse fixture in Turin.
A couple of nights ago, Ajax did the unthinkable and beat Juventus 2-1 in Italy away from home, in a fixture which no one thought they would win, after Juventus' performance against Atletico Madrid in the previous round. But the club captain, Matthijs de Ligt had other plans as he put the side front after a 34th-minute equalizer by Donny van de Beek. Cristiano Ronaldo had headed home in the 28th minute to put Juventus in the driving seat.
So, as Ajax are in the semi-final of the competition, it's a stage where anything can really happen, and they face much favorable opposition in Tottenham, who are comparatively not on the levels of other semi-finalists like Liverpool and FC Barcelona.
Can the young team from the Netherlands beat the Spurs to book a dream final in Madrid? We take a look at 3 reasons why they probably will.
#3 Ajax have nothing to lose
Ajax have already exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, and this gives them much-needed confidence. But, apart from this, it also gives them an advantage that from this point on, wherever the club lands with whatever results they produce, it is only going to be a bonus for the side.
With Frenkie de Jong leaving in the summer for FC Barcelona, and Matthijs de Ligt also rumored to leave the club for bigger opportunities, it will be a great goodbye gift they can give their club which showed faith in them and are a big reason why they are such great players at such a tender age.
When Ajax will play both the legs, they will be able to express themselves better on the pitch due to the fact that they have nothing to lose from the tie, while Spurs will be looking to stay on to their reputation after beating Manchester City.
#2 Tottenham's defensive woes
Though Spurs prevailed over Manchester City last night, the Citizens time and again exposed the flaws in the Tottenham defense with every goal they put in the back of the net.
Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were seen breaching the Tottenham defensive line every couple of minutes in the match and with much ease, while Kevin de Bruyne produced wonderful crosses which were beyond the reach of the Spurs' central defenders.
Ajax have shown in the last 4 matches in the Champions League that they are worthy of punishing weak defensive displays, and if Ajax work on all the defensive mistakes Tottenham exposed last night, Ajax might produce another big margin victory and shock Europe once again.
#1 No Heung-Min Son and No Harry Kane for Tottenham
There is no doubt Harry Kane's absence for Tottenham have brought immense opportunity for Heung-Min Son, and the South Korean is delivering perfectly. He was definitely the match winner last night for Tottenham at the Etihad.
Unfortunately, Son is suspended for the first leg of the semi-final after picking up a yellow card last night, and Harry Kane is out injured till the end of the season. This means that Tottenham have no first-team striker apart from Fernando Llorente, who is not the best in the Tottenham squad, let alone in England.
Due to the above facts, Spurs' attacking threat has fairly neutralized at least for the first leg, and Ajax can heavily capitalize on it. And looking at the past few results, they know how to.
Who do you think will come out on top when Ajax take on Live in the Champions League semi-finals? Do drop your comments below!