Ajax v Spurs predictions, preview & expected XIs
Tottenham Hotspur travel to Ajax in the Champions League semi-final second leg on Wednesday night knowing that they are still in with a chance of progressing to next month’s final.
Spurs have 90 minutes – or more if needed – to turn around the 1-0 defeat they suffered on home turf to reach the first Champions League final in their history.
Read on for Ajax vs Tottenham Hotspur live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.
When is Ajax vs Spurs?
Competition: Champions League
Venue: Johan Cruijff ArenA
Date: Wednesday, 08 May
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Where can I watch live?
UK residents can watch Tottenham’s game against Ajax on BT Sport 2, channel 414 on Sky and channel 528 for Virgin Media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.
These two sides have faced each other three times in their history following last week’s clash. The previous two were when they played each other in the first round of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981.
Spurs won both fixtures – 3-1 on Dutch soil before a 3-0 win at home – with Mauricio Pochettino hoping his side could produce the magic in Holland once again.
Tottenham wins: 2 Draws: 0 Ajax wins: 1
Last week proved that if Tottenham want to reach the first Champions League final in their history, they are going to have to seriously earn their place.
The Premier League side never really got going at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as they tentatively tried to make home advantage swing in their favour.
Spurs will know that they need to score first to give themselves a realistic shot of progression, otherwise, they may falter just before the final hurdle.
For Ajax, they produced a performance worthy of a Champions League final appearance in the semi-final first leg, looking positive, energetic, and direct on the ball, allowing Spurs no time to work out what to do when they had possession.
Ajax have now won away to Real Madrid, Juventus and Spurs in the last three consecutive rounds, such is their ability to grind out a win away from home.
But now the pressure is on them. They have the lead, they have the home support and they have one foot in the final. Can they go all the way?
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Tottenham’s poor form
Securing a place in this season’s Champions League semi-finals is a real achievement for Tottenham, who spent zero money across the previous two transfer windows.
However, with injuries and fatigue impacting the squad at the latter stages of the season, the Spurs hierarchy may be regretting that now they have a real shot at history.
Heading into this fixture, the Premier League side’s form could hardly be worse having lost five of their previous six fixtures in all competitions, including that disappointing 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the first leg. Long term, Spurs have lost nine of their past 15 outings in all competitions.
Specifically in the Champions League, Spurs have only won one away match in their previous 10 European away games; a 1-0 win away to Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16.
They know they need at least a goal without reply to keep themselves in the tie, but their form suggests it’s not going to be as simple as that on Wednesday night.
Ajax are almost unbeatable at home
Donny van de Beek’s first-half goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium sealed a vital victory for Erik ten Hag’s squad, who are the first Dutch side to reach the Champions League semi-finals since rivals PSV in 2005.
Equally important, Ajax came through the first leg without conceding any goals, meaning their away goal represents a massive advantage going into the second leg.
They will feel confident that they can progress to their first Champions League final since 1995 due to their excellent home form in the competition this season.
The Dutch outfit started their European campaign far earlier than anyone else – they are the first team to reach the semi-finals after playing in three qualifying rounds – and have lost just one of their 26 home games this season (W:21 D:4).
Bad news for Spurs: the Dutch side have won all three Champions League knockout phase ties in which they have played the second leg at home.
Can ex-Ajax stars help Spurs?
Despite Ajax’s fantastic form at home this season, maybe Spurs have something most other teams don’t within their ranks?
The north London side boast four former Ajax players in their squad who could inspire the rest of their teammates to victory in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.
With Spurs needing to keep the door shut while trying to nick a goal or two up the other end, defensive performances from Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez will be vital to Tottenham’s cause.
It will be interesting to see whether Jan Vertonghen can make a return to action so soon after his nasty injury picked up in the first leg, a concussion that forced him off the field in the first half.
Pochettino spoke with reporters after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth regarding Vertonghen’s fitness, with the Argentine remaining positive that the Belgian can play his part.
He said: “We’ll see, we hope yes. He was training well yesterday, I think he can be available.”
Of course, the ridiculously talent Christian Eriksen is a former Ajax star and will need to be on top form to unlock a sturdy Ajax defence.
As stated above, Vertonghen may be able to play depending on how quick he has recovered from that concussion. Harry Kane remains out of contention while Heung-min Son is back following suspension. Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela will likely be involved following their respective hamstring injuries.
Meanwhile, Ajax pair Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting are still out of action.
1. Alderweireld and Sanchez centre-pairing
Following his nasty collision with Belgian teammate Alderweireld, Vertonghen may still be a risk for Pochettino, who could opt to play Sanchez alongside the 30-year-old.
Spurs looked too limited going forward with wing-backs – Keiran Trippier, in particular, struggled – so expect the Premier League club to stick to full-backs and crowd the midfield.
Predicted Spurs XI (4-3-2-1): Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose; Wanyama, Sissoko, Alli; Eriksen, Moura; Son.
2. Limited changes for Ajax
The Dutch side played extremely well across the park in the first leg, adapting from a strong defensive unit into a direct and threatening attacking force with seemingly little effort.
Ajax rested a few players this weekend in preparation for the semi-final and it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw a repeat of the line up that played so well in London.
Predicted Ajax XI (4-2-3-1): Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Mazraoui; Schone, De Jong; Ziyech, Van de Beek, Neres; Tadic.
3. Vertonghen starts, Son leads
The Evenings Standard predicts that Son will return to lead the line for Spurs after suspension ruled him out of the first leg.
His red card against Bournemouth is set to keep him out of contention on a domestic level, but Son will be determined to prove himself and fire Spurs to the Champions League final.
The newspaper also predicts that Vertonghen will overcome his concussion to line-up alongside Alderweireld.
Evening Standard’s predicted Spurs XI (4-3-2-1): Lloris; Trippier, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose; Wanyama, Sissoko, Alli; Eriksen, Son, Lucas.
Is this the most important game in Tottenham’s history? In terms of legacy, birthing a new era and shocking the world by reaching the Champions League final despite having obvious limitations, yes. Can they do it? Of course, they can.
But they will need to be on top form from back to front, expose Ajax’s vulnerabilities and significantly improve their fortunes in the final third. They need a great start and must avoid sucker-punched. They may have just run out of puff…
Ajax 1-1 Spurs