Do we even dare to predict a match after last night? I guess we are obligated, but we will be even more cautious than we usually are. Lessons learned from yesterday were summed up by the t-shirt Salah was wearing: ‘never give up!’ Tottenham will be inspired by their fellow countrymen for tonight, going to Amsterdam as the (unexpected) underdog with one away goal behind. Unfortunately for them, this team of Ajax youngsters slogan has been the same all this season. No matter the opponent, they always seem to be giving everything. We feel quite safe to make at least this prediction: sparks are gonna fly tonight!
Sonrise or Sonset?
With the return of Son, Tottenham will form a vanguard with Son and Moura. With Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen in their back for creative impulses. This will give Tottenham definitely more attack thrust; Son scored in three out of four Champions League Knockout Goals. Fernando Llorente sealed the fate of City in the quarter finals and will be again handed the role of pinch hitter, Pochettino’s trump card.
In the defense, there are also some noticeable changes: Davinson Sanchez, Toby AlderWeireld and Jan Veronghen formed a three man defence, but tonight Tottenham will play with only Toby and Jan. Davinson being injured and Jan playing with a mask. The flanks will be covered by Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose, while Moussa Sissoko will start in the midfield this time around. The other controlling midfield position will be filled by either Victor Wanyama or Eric Dier.
Ajax: ‘most important match ever in the Amsterdam Arena’
According to Ten Hag, tonight will be the most important match ever played in the Amsterdam Arena up to date. Since the stadium opened in 1996, he might just be right. The youngsters that suddenly has fans all over the world seem to have a unique combination of juvenile eagerness and energy on the one hand and a mature focus on the other hand. It is something that the great football minds of this world saw much earlier in the season. Louis van Gaal said in the group stage that this Ajax can reach the finals; tonight he can earn the title of visionary man. It indicates that this season is no incident but rather a recipe of some extraordinary ingredients. Other manages have been trying to get this recipe or rather have been trying to figure out how to neutralize it.
Neres is the only question mark for Ten Hag, who left the field for the nation’s cup final with a minor injury. Other than that, the team seems surprisingly fit at this stage of the season. Ajax is still active on three fronts (or two, successfully winning the cup last Sunday) and has over 60 games this season. If anything, they have only grown this season.
There are quite some similarities between Ajax and Tottenham, which we already discussed here. There is though one big difference that we think will make the difference tonight: Ajax has only become better this season, while Tottenham has shown degeneration in the last months. The transfer policy (not buying new players) will come to haunt them at this stage. We predict Ajax will take this home.