Ajax host Tottenham to the Johan Cruyff Arena for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final encounter on Wednesday night.
AFC Ajax is the most pleasant surprise in the Champions League this season, eliminating Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semi-finals. They have a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, thanks to Donny van de Beek’s strike in the 15th minute of the game.
The Jews welcome Tottenham on the back of a 4-0 victory over Willem II in the KNVB Cup Final. They won their first trophy of the campaign, as Erik ten Hag’s side is aiming for the Treble this season.
Spurs travel to Amsterdam in poor form, winning only one of their last six games across all competitions. They can still qualify in their first-ever Champions League Final with a victory, as only the same result from the first leg could see the game go into extra time.
Long term absentees Hassane Bande and Carel Eiting are the only Ajax players who will miss the game against Spurs on Wednesday night.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) May 6, 2019
Tottenham, on the other hand, travel to the Netherlands without their best player Harry Kane, with Serge Aurier and Harry Winks also being ruled out of the game against Ajax.
Pochettino is hopeful that Vertonghen will be fit to face his former club, while South Korean forward Son Heung-min is back in the team after serving a suspension in the first leg last Tuesday.
What did the managers say
Ajax won their first trophy this season last Sunday, but their head coach Erik ten Hag is hungry for more.
“In the end, it’s all about titles,” he said via Goal. “We have been fighting for this all year round and the first prize has now arrived. But we are not yet satisfied. It is not enough.
“This fuels hunger. Now we are going to enjoy it for 24 hours, but after that, the focus will be on Wednesday. It has been far too long since Ajax had won something.
“We have had a great season, but we needed something tangible. We now have that, but we want more. We have fought hard and I was very happy to win this trophy for the fans because they had long to wait.”
Pochettino wants to see a brave performance from his players at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday night.
“It’s possible if you play bravely and play with a winning mentality,” Pochettino said, as we reported earlier today. “That is the most important thing.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 7, 2019
“I think you, the fans, mostly the players – we feel all disappointed because we didn’t start the game, playing a semi-final of the Champions League.
“We didn’t translate the emotion or the image that we were playing in a Champions League semi-final.”
Ajax will attempt to reach their first Champions League final since 1996, while their last triumph in the competition came a year earlier.
Tottenham would become the 40th different team to play in the Champions League/European Cup Final in the history of the competition.
Of the 17 sides who have lost the home first leg of a semi-final in the UEFA Champions League era, only one has recovered to win on aggregate – Ajax themselves, against Panathinaikos in 1995/96 (0-1 home, 3-0 away).
Tottenham’s two previous Champions League away games against Dutch opposition ended in draws with a grand total of 10 goals, an average of 5 goals per game.
Ajax are winless in their last three Champions League home games, while their joint-heaviest home defeat against English opposition was inflicted by Tottenham in September 1981.
Both teams have met in only one previous European tie, with Spurs winning 6-1 on aggregate in the 1981/82 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round.