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Football

UCL: Spurs in Amsterdam full of belief

Tottenham have never reached the final of the Champions League. (Agency Photo)

Ajax Amsterdam vs Tottenham Hotspurs

Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam

Wednesday, 08-05-2019 @10pm

Referee: Felix Brych

Son Heung-min will return for Tottenham after missing the first leg through suspension and is expected to play up front with England striker Harry Kane still out with an ankle injury. Vertonghen could replace Davinson Sanchez, who picked up a thigh injury in the 1-0 loss at Bournemouth on Saturday, with winger Erik Lamela and full-back Serge Aurier both available after hamstring injuries.

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag said he had a fully-fit squad to choose from with forward David Neres available after recovering from a foot injury.

What they are saying

Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs head coach: “The negative result in the first leg obviously makes it more difficult, but the tie is still open. We know we need to win and perform to our best. It’s an exciting moment for us.

“Nobody thought we would have the possibility in the last week of the season to reach the final of the Champions League. Now we need to enjoy this moment and believe.

Erik Ten Hag, Ajax head coach: “We need to win this match, that will be our mindset. We have to stick to our own strengths. We’re confident we can do it, we’re fit and eager.

“A few people who knew this level of success said it would still be possible for a Dutch team to reach the Champions League final; people like Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and [Ajax director] Marc Overmars. It’s up to us to prove them right.”

Stats

Ajax lead the tie 1-0 from the first leg.

Only one of the 17 previous teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League/European Cup semi-final tie has progressed to the final – Ajax in 1995-96, the Dutch team losing 1-0 at home against Panathinaikos before winning 3-0 away. Ajax will attempt to reach their first Champions League/European Cup final since 1996 (losing finalists against Juventus) while Tottenham would become the 40th different team in Champions League/European Cup history to make the showpiece game, and the first to reach their first such final since Chelsea in 2008. Tottenham’s two previous Champions League away games against Dutch opposition ended in draws with a grand total of 10 goals. Also, since the start of 2018, Spurs have won only one of their six Champions League away games, a 1-0 victory at Dortmund in this season’s round of 16 (drawn three, lost two). Ajax’s joint-heaviest home defeat against English opposition was inflicted by Tottenham, in September 1981. Spurs won 3-1 at the Olympisch Stadion, courtesy of goals from Mark Falco (two) and Ricky Villa (one). Ajax are winless in their last three Champions League home games (drawn two, lost one). They could become the fourth team to reach the Champions League final with more away wins than home wins that same season, after Manchester United (2010-11), Juventus (2016-17) and Real Madrid (2017-18). Qualifiers included, Ajax have already played 17 games this season in the Champions League (six in the qualifiers, 11 in the group/knockout stages), more than any other team this season. They have only lost one of these 17 games, a 2-1 home defeat against Real Madrid in the round of 16. Tottenham only had one shot on target in the first leg against Ajax, their joint-lowest total in a Champions League game. Among the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finalists, Ajax are the only club to have scored in every game in the competition this season. Hakim Ziyech has scored or assisted a goal in four of Ajax’s five Champions League knockout games this season (two goals, two assists). He set up Donny van de Beek for Ajax’s goal in the first leg against Tottenham. Suspended in the first leg against Ajax, Son Heung-min has scored 50% of Tottenham’s goals in this season’s Champions League knockout stages (four out of eight). He is the highest Asian goalscorer in the competition’s history (12 goals).

The other semi final

-Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (Agg 4-3)

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