Ajax continued their sensational Champions League form on Tuesday night by recording a 1-0 win at Tottenham in the first leg of the semi-final clash. The occasion certainly did not overawe Erik ten Tag’s side, who had won at Real Madrid and Juventus in the previous rounds.
Ajax the much better side
In truth, Ajax were slightly unfortunate to only win by the one goal. The only goal of the game arrived on 15 minutes, and it was a typically well-worked effort from the Dutch giants. A lovely team move resulted in the ball landing at midfielder Donny van de Beek, who took a few touches before firing low past Hugo Lloris in the home goal.
The young midfielder also forced the Spurs goalkeeper into a good save with an effort from a tight angle on the half-hour mark. The youngster probably chose the wrong option, as Dusan Tadic was in a better position to score had he receive the ball.
Dele Alli had the first sight of goal from 20 yards, which Ajax goalkeeper Onana did well to keep out. There were very few other clear-cut chances, but Ajax’s Brazilian winger Davie Neres came close to doubling the visitors lead on 76 minutes, as after a good team move his low effort came back off the post with Lloris completely beaten.
Tottenham will need to make history if they are to make it to the Champions League final, as only one of the previous 17 teams to have lost a home semi-final have turned the tie around in the away leg.
Ajax are the now favourites to make it through to the final, to face either Barcelona or Liverpool, who play their first leg tonight at Nou Camp.
Tottenham badly missed attacking inspiration
Ajax produced yet another stellar away performance in the Champions League. However, the Dutch team were helped by the fact that Tottenham were missing their two biggest attacking threats in Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Son has proven vital to the Spurs attack since Kane picked up his season-ending injury. His absence on Tuesday night due to suspension meant that Spurs presented very little real attacking threat.
The lack of attacking threat could cost them dearly in this tie, as Ajax are very strong on home soil. With a one-goal away goal in their back pockets, it will be incredibly difficult for Tottenham to turn this tie around.
Ajax have been brilliant this season in the Champions League
This season’s Champions League story is definitely Ajax. There is always a team that surprises people by making the later stages of the competition. However, very rarely they make the final.
The first leg victory and away-goal have given the Dutch team real hope of making the final of Europe’s elite competition. The way they have played and the teams they have beaten along the way would make them worthy finalists.
It would be even more of a fairytale if the Erik ten Hag’s young team lifts the trophy. It would be a case of a real team of footballers winning the biggest trophy in the European game, not just a giant team backed by rich owners.
Even if they fail to win the trophy or even make it to the final, the current Ajax team have lived up to the mythology of the club’s name in the European game this season. Well done Ajax, you have been a joy to watch.
Can Ajax win the Champions League this season?