Hands up, who predicted Spurs and Ajax would be Champions League semi-finalists at the start of the season?
It’s been a roller-coaster journey for both sides: Ajax knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus; Spurs coming back from the brink of a group-stage elimination by clinching a point at the Nou Camp – it’s been cracking theatre.
This semi-final first-leg is looking competitive, feisty and unpredictable (both semis are, to be fair), and it’s a wonderful opportunity for either side to reach the ultimate European final.
With Spurs’ ‘New Stadium Bounce’ emphatically broken at the hands of West Ham, you can be sure Ajax will travel to North London without a morsel of fear—that’s not to say they would’ve anyway, considering they have wins at Juventus and Real Madrid under their belt—and for my money, I fancy them to beat Spurs in this first-leg.
The suspension of Son Heung-Min for this match may prove absolutely pivotal. Son has admirably shouldered Spurs’ goalscoring responsibility in the absence of Harry Kane, but who on earth will step up when both of them aren’t playing? Christian Eriksen is a brilliant player, but not quite consistent enough for my liking; it’s a similar story with Dele Alli.
Ajax to win @ +190
No goal has been scored before the 45th minute in all four of Ajax and Spurs’ combined first-leg matches this season.
Cagey, circumspect first-legs are nothing new, and with both sides in totally uncharted territory—Ajax’s last Champions League semi-final was 22 years ago, two years before their captain Matthijs de Ligt was born—so risks will not be taken this early in the tie.
Draw at half-time @ +113
There wasn’t an awful lot made of Dusan Tadic’s transfer from Southampton to Ajax in the summer, but the Serbian has scored 34 goals in all competitions this season. Thirty Four.
Tadic has been inspirational for Ajax thus far in the competition, and as a longshot, I’m backing him to score first, priced at +600.
He’s already netted six times in his 10 Champions League matches, and I believe he’s got every chance of doing so again.
Tadic to score first @ +600