In Review

Champions League: Tottenham vs. Ajax preview, team news, predictions, starting XIs, betting odds, TV

Mauricio Pochettino urges his side to dream and go to ‘infinity and beyond’

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ajax
  • What: Uefa Champions League semi-final first leg 
  • When: Tuesday 30 April 
  • Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England 
  • Kick-off: 8pm (UK time) 
  • Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain) 
  • TV channel and live stream: live on BT Sport 
  • Match betting odds: Spurs to win 6/4; draw 9/5; Ajax to win 12/5

Tottenham Hotspur welcome Ajax to their new stadium on Tuesday for the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final tie.

Spurs progressed to the last four after beating Manchester City on away goals in the quarter-finals while Ajax were 3-2 aggregate winners against Juventus.

The talented Dutch side are unbeaten in eight Champions League away matches and have defeated Real Madrid and Juve on their travels in Europe.

Mauricio Pochettino is expecting two tough fixtures against Erik ten Hag’s side. The Spurs manager said: “It’s going to be so tough. Ajax fully deserve to be where they are and of course it’s going to be a very competitive game.

“[Ajax] are a team that really deserve a lot of credit - the manager and players are doing a fantastic job. It’s a little bit like us: no one believed Ajax could arrive to the semi-finals, but in the end we are there because we deserve to be.”

Spurs lost 1-0 at home against West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday but Pochettino says he will have no problem motivating his squad for a European semi-final at their £1bn new home.

“It’s going to be a magic night because to play the semi-finals in our new stadium is a thing that no one could believe or think a few months ago,” he added. “It’s a game that is impossible to be tired, not to be excited to play. It’s all mental. The energy is going to be there, of course.”

The other Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Liverpool takes place on Wednesday at the Camp Nou. 

Spurs vs. Ajax TV and live stream

The first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be live on BT Sport 2. The match kicks off at 8pm and BT’s coverage begins at 7pm. A live stream is also available for sport.bt.com subscribers.

What the managers had to say

Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham

“You need to set your dreams to infinity and beyond. When you achieve things it’s because you dream them. To be in the Champions League semi-final with Tottenham was a dream five years ago - but we’re living the dream. You know we must always dream for the moon if you want to get something in the sky.

“I am desperate to win a trophy. Whether that is the FA Cup, the League Cup or others and we have tried in the past five years. If you ask me to bring the club to the next level like Real Madrid and Barcelona it’s not about winning just one cup, it’s about being in a competition like the Champions League and being a contender to win it or the Premier League.”

Erik Ten Hag, Ajax

“We want to continue this curve. It’s amazing that we are in the Champions League semi-finals - nobody could have predicted at the beginning of the season that a Dutch team would end up in the Champions League semi-finals.

“I think this is really the motto of our team - we have achieved something, but we want to do more. We don’t want to rest on our laurels. They [the young players] have really matured, certainly in the last couple of years thanks to the number of matches they’ve played - in the Netherlands and at a European level.

“That will really strengthen them in their development. The team has really come together.”

Team news and possible starting XIs

Tottenham injury news and suspensions

Spurs go into the semi-final first leg without their two best strikers - Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. England captain Kane has an ankle injury and South Korea star Son is serving a one-match suspension. With Kane and Son both out Lucas Moura is expected to start in attack.

Pochettino will also be without the injured Serge Aurier (hamstring), Erik Lamela (hamstring) and Harry Winks (groin) while Vincent Janssen is ineligible.

Moussa Sissoko and Jan Vertonghen both trained on Monday and will have late fitness tests.

Ajax injury news and suspensions

According to Uefa.com Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag could be without the injured Václav Černý, Hassane Bandé and Carel Eiting. Meanwhile, Noussair Mazraoui is doubtful.

The Daily Express reports that full-back Nicolas Tagliafico, who has been linked with Tottenham and Arsenal, is also an injury doubt.

Possible starting XIs

How the teams could line up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, according to the London Evening Standard.

  • Tottenham possible starting XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Sissoko, Dier, Rose, Eriksen, Dele, Lucas 
  • Ajax possible starting XI: Onana, Veltman, Blind, De Ligt, Mazraoui, Schone, De Jong, Ziyech, Van Beek, Neres, Tadic

Predictions

London Evening Standard: Tottenham 1 Ajax 1

“Ajax would have seemed like a dream semi-final draw for any side before the knockout stages began, but the Dutch side have knocked out holders Real Madrid and Italian giants Juventus en route to the last four. With Ajax beating those two European heavyweights with second-leg wins away from home, Tottenham will be right up against it in north London - especially with Son and Kane missing. If Spurs’ defence can nullify Ajax the same way they did with Borussia Dortmund, Pochettino’s side could well take a positive result to Amsterdam. However, the real battle will be in midfield with Matthis de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong stepping up, while Dusan Tadic will have to be watched carefully.”

90min: Tottenham 1 Ajax 1

“Erik ten Hag’s side will certainly fancy their chances of following in West Ham’s footsteps from last weekend and upsetting the moving-in party at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Tottenham essentially novices at this stage of Europe’s elite competition. Pochettino’s side appeared tired and weary against the Hammers on Saturday and could struggle to live with a youthfully exuberant and energetic Ajax side, who will not be intimidated by the magnitude of the occasion. Spurs must ensure that they keep things tight at the back and do not get caught out against the visitor’s explosive pace on the break, and could be content to keep themselves in the tie for the second leg, against a side which will have had a full week’s rest.”

Sports Mole: Tottenham 1 Ajax 1

“Spurs do not draw many games, but some of their feeling of invincibility at their new home will have deserted them after the weekend defeat and Ajax are a team in fine form. The visitors have scored a Dutch-record 160 goals across all competitions this season and will fancy their chances of getting at least one more away from home on Tuesday.”

Matthijs de Ligt scored for Ajax against Juventus in the Champions League last season

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Tottenham vs. Ajax betting odds

As of 29 April, see Oddschecker for the latest prices.

Match betting
  • Tottenham to win: 6/4 
  • Draw: 9/5 
  • Ajax to win: 12/5
To qualify for the final
  • Tottenham to progress: 11/10 
  • Ajax to progress: 8/11
To win the Champions League
  • Barcelona: 6/4 
  • Liverpool: 5/2 
  • Tottenham: 9/2 
  • Ajax: 9/2

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