Not many would have thought that Tottenham and Ajax would be battling it out for a place in the Champions League final at the start of the season, however few could argue that both sides deserve to be here. Form Labs bring you their betting preview and tips for the game while Darren Bent and Jason McAteer bring you their expert opinions ahead of the first leg semi-final clash. If you are a new customer to FansBet then why not take advantage of our Bet20 Get20 welcome offer and then for all customers head over to our FanBoosts section and see where the value lies with our selection of enhanced odds.
Spurs Journey So Far
It’s been a long road for Spurs to make it to their first ever Champions League semi-final. The North London club were pitted against Barcelona, Inter and PSV in a tough Group B selection and having collected just one point from their opening three matches, coming against the weakest side PSV, it’s certainly been an uphill battle.
They did however go on to win two of their final three unbeaten outings, benefiting from a raft of absentees on matchday six to grind out a draw at the Camp Nou. Barcelona had already secured first place by that point, leading Ernesto Valverde to start the likes of Leo Messi, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gerard Pique all on the bench, while Luis Suarez missed out on the squad entirely through injury.
That stalemate proved enough to pull off an unlikely spot in the knockout stages thanks to the Nerazzurri failing to beat PSV on the final day in their own back yard.
Since then though, they’ve been mightily impressive in downing Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the last-16, before taking down Pep Guardiola’s tournament favourites on the away goals rule (4-4) in the quarters.
Jason McAteer and Darren Bent Preview Spurs v Ajax
Ajax Path To The Semi-Finals
Ajax enjoyed an easier path to the knockout rounds as they faced a Bayern team that struggled for form and confidence in the first half of the campaign, as well as limited Benfica and AEK Athens outfits.
Erik ten Hag’s charges went unbeaten throughout their group (W3-D3-L0), though they could well have taken the Bavarians in their final group match, as they were leading before a penalty in the 87th minute.
That meant a second-place finish, leaving them with a daunting first knockout round tie with serial winners Real Madrid, though they showed their mettle to beat the reigning champions 5-3 on aggregate, including a stunning 4-1 triumph at the Bernabeu.
In fact, they didn’t stop there, as they downed a much-fancied Juventus 3-2 over two legs in the next round and they certainly look a dangerous force.
Spurs And Ajax Recent Form
Mauricio Pochettino took the opportunity to rest Jan Vertonghen for their domestic match against West Ham at the weekend, though it was a tactic that backfired with the Hammers inflicting their first defeat in five at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
That isn’t too surprising though, given Spurs have lost three of their last four top-flight or European games without their key centre-back, while they’ve won four of their last six with him, as only Man City (4-3 and 1-0) could get the better of them.
Moreover, even with that that defeat they still managed to shorten in the market to finish in the top four of the Premier League, with Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea all failing to fully capitalise on their slip-up, so morale remains high.
Erik ten Hag’s men are on a commanding run of 13 wins from their 15 matches in all competitions, though they did go down away at fourth-placed AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie by a goal to nil, whilst their last road trip saw them grind out a victory against mid-table outfit Groningen by that same scoreline.
Spurs v Ajax Betting Tips
Dutch teams are W2-D6-L19 away against English sides in European competition since 2003/04 (including qualifying), while more recently in the Champions League they’ve lost six of eight winless road trips sides since 2008/09, including Spurs’ victory over PSV back in November.
Of course, that makes the hosts tempting at the prices, but without Son Heung-min suspended for the first leg and Harry Kane injured, we’d rather avoid the outright market and what does appeal, is Under 2.5 Goals.
Pochettino’s men have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three home European outings against Inter, Dortmund and City, while that Michail Antonio strike for the Hammers was the first goal they’ve conceded at the new stadium from 450 minutes of football to date.
We can forgive them for the odd concession and they’ll be confident as the visitors saw fewer than three strikes in each of their three Champions League trips in the group stages.
Meanwhile, Ajax’s last-16 first leg only saw them beaten 2-1, with Madrid scoring the winner in the 87th minute, and their opening leg with the Bianconeri finished 1-1.
This looks set to be another cagey affair with the hosts lacking their real firepower upfront, while they’ll be wary of the damage an away strike could do, and since 18 of the 28 semi-final first legs in this competition since 2004/05 have seen two strikes or fewer, with 13 seeing no more than one, ‘unders’ appears the way to go.
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