|OPPONENTS||Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena|
|COMPETITION||Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg|
|DATE||Wednesday 8th May 2019|
Well, the first leg showed u just what a good side Ajax area, with
the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, Stefan de Vrij,
David Neres and Nicolas Tagliafico in the team. They adopt the
philosophy of Ajax teams past (and a few aspects of Tottenham's past
sides) in moving the ball quickly to utilise players in space.
It is not a new idea, but it is the way they make it look
effortless, when, in fact, it actually takes a lot of energy.
The "Pass and Move" tactic was used by Arthur Rowe in the 1950s at White Hart Lane, with some of his former team-mates and coaches spreading the word to the continent, with a couple ending up at Ajax. Total football, as it was once named, sees that style taken a step further, with players comfortable in a number of positions, interchanging to break out of a traditional shape and cause problems for the opposition, who have to try and counter that. Ajax play a modern version of Total Football, with their players adaptable and popping up in unaccustomed positions. Spurs will need to put in a lot of work to make sure they can cope with that and also to then create chances themselves.
Having taken a 1-0 first leg lead away from home, Ajax go into the match favourites to progress and without Harrys Kane and Winks, Tottenham's task is considerably more difficult. However, with the return of Heung-Min Son from suspension and Jan Vertonghen being able to play after his facial injury in the previous game with Ajax, it perhaps offers a little more hope. What Tottenham have to do is be quicker in moving the ball forward through the team and also to improve on their crossing, as they were too easy for Onana to deal with in the main. He wasn't overly tested at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with only one effort on target. The Ajax keeper needs to be worked to see how goof he actually is.
The other hope for Spurs is that Ajax try to protect their lead and sit back, but I don't think that is in their nature, so we will need a start like we had at Manchester City in the quarter final. Not in letting a goal in inside four minutes, but getting Son in good spaces in the early stages to worry Ajax. We saw what an early goal can do to the other side as Liverpool went through against Barcelona. Whether we would be able to hold onto a lead, we would have to see. It will also be a factor that the bulk of the side played 44 minutes with nine men on Saturday, while Ajax rested players in the Dutch Cup final.
The atmosphere will be tense, with both sides looking to make the next step in their development by reaching the final, with Ajax having made the Europa League final a couple of years ago and having beaten Real Madrid and Juventus in this campaign. Spurs have made steady progress in the competition considering they have not been playing Champions League football for four seasons. Being so close to getting to the final should inspire the team to go further. Big match experience with Lloris in a World Cup final and Toby Alderweireld having been with the Atletico Madrid side who reached the CL final in 2014. Other players have made appearances at World Cups and European Championships, so there should be enough nous there to put in a performance agianst Ajax.
A clean sheet would be
fantastic, but I cannot see that, so a narrow win might just be
enough to squeak past the Dutch side, with hopefully a good
performance making the night one to forget for the Amsterdam side.
|PREDICTION||Ajax 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg||Kick off 20:00|
Tottenham Hotspur 3 (0)
(Agg : 3-3 - Spurs win on away goals)
de Ligt 04m
Moura 54m 42s
|Crowd : 52,641||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : Felix Brych (GER)||Assistant Referees : Mark Borsch (GER); Stefan Lupp (GER)|
|Fourth Official : Deniz Aytekin (GER)|
|Video Assistant Referee : Bastian Dankert (GER)||Assistant Video Assistant Referee : Marco Fritz (GER)|
|UEFA Delegate : Tormod Larsen (NOR)||UEFA Referee Observer : Rune Pedersen (NOR)|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 9 minutes.|
Dolberg (foul on Rose) 50
Ziyech (persistent fouling - foul on Rose) 77
Onana (time-wasting) 90+4
Sissoko (foul on Tagliafico) 17
Rose (throwing ball down ) 76
|Ajax :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
Lasse SCHONE (
3 Joel VELTMAN
Hugo LLORIS (c)
2 Kieran TRIPPIER (11 Erik LAMELA 81)
4 Toby ALDERWEIRELD
5 Jan VERTONGHEN
3 Danny ROSE (33 Ben DAVIES 82)
Fernando LLORENTE 46)
7 Heung-Min SON
|Manager : Erik van Tag||Manager : Mauricio Pochettino|
|Sponsor : Ziggo||Shirt sponsor : AIA|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Nike|
Sometimes, just sometimes, football can be stranger than fiction and this match defied all suspended belief, as Spurs stuck by theirs and went on to record a historic victory at the very death to propel them into the Champions League final, where they will face a familiar foes in Liverpool. Lucas Moura stepped up and scored a hat-trick in 35 minutes to turn around a 0-3 deficit against a youthful and talented Ajax side. But following Pochettino's tactical change, they could not handle the pressure that Tottenham exerted and finally crumbled under a 96th minute winner that sealed an unbelievable turnaround.
Spurs were much the same XI
who played the home leg, with Wanyama coming in for Dier from
Saturdayís game at Bournemouth and Ajax replaced Veltman with
Mazraoui, with Kasper Dolberg replacing David Neres, who pulled up
in the warm-up. The tiny Spurs section was tucked away in a corner,
with the majority of the stadium a red and white mass, but that
didnít stop them making themselves heard above the home crowd.
A last-minute corner saw Lloris go up for it, but Llorente headed the ball over the bar and with seconds left, it might have been the last chance. With Onana getting booked for wasting time, his kick out looked as though it might take the ball away from his goal for the last time, but it came back with interest ! It was won at the back by Toby and Ben, with the ball coming to Son in the centre circle. He played the ball back to Sissoko, who hoisted a high ball to Fernando, who stretched out a leg and flicked it on to Dele. He touched the ball into the box and into the path of Lucas Moura, who did not hesitate in taking the shot on first time before a tackle came in and it was sent along the floor past Onanaís left hand as he dived to try and stop it. It was almost a replay of the first goal and with seconds seemingly remaining, the crowd went silent, the Ajax players fell to the floor and Spurs fans went nuts !! Poch was on his knees and the subs were in the corner in front of the Spurs fans swamping Lucas.
The referee still found some time for Ajax to get the ball forward, chucking a long throw in, but when we won the ball, Lamela tried to dribble the ball out and lost it, but it was won back and it was run up the pitch and Ajax didnít have the legs to chase back and the foul on Sissoko brought the final whistle. The third goal had knocked the stuffing out of the young side, but the second half performance by Spurs, similar to the better second half showing in the first leg, was rewarded with three goals to go to the final on away goals. Ajax had played well, but their second half performance was not up to the level they had produced in the foregoing 135 minutes. They still hit the post twice in the second half, but Janís header against the bar came just as close.
I never thought that I would
see Spurs in a Champions League final in my life. The feeling
watching at home was incredible, but for those fans there, it will
be a night never to forget ! It is the realisation of a belief that
Spurs can do things their own way. Having beaten an Ajax side who
have just started spending a bit of money and hope to retain their
best players and in the final we will face a side that has spent a
lot of money. The project that Levy and Pochettino devised may be
bearing fruit sooner than they thought, but this campaign has
been a rollercoaster ride of emotion and thrills.
Marco van Hip
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|What you thought|
|Other semi-final score :|
|Liverpool (win 4-3 on agg)||4||Barcelona (SPA)||0||Tuesday|
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