Champions League Semi-Final Previews
How do the semi finalists stack up in the Champions League?
The semifinals of the Champions League are evenly poised, with each of the four competing teams retaining at least some chance or progressing to the final.
So, while leading tournament favourites Liverpool and Barcelona arguably remain in pole position to make the last two, anything can happen in the return legs.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at these matches and see who’s likely to prevail and reach the promised land this year in Madrid.
Spurs Ahead, but can they do the double over the Dutch?
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the quarter-final first legs was Tottenham’s 1-0 home win against Manchester City, with Son Heung-min striking an opportunistic winner that went straight through Ederson.
Pep Guardiola’s men definitely looked jaded as the game wore on, with their relentless pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple seemingly making them vulnerable to Tottenham’s aggressive pressing.
Only a fool would underestimate this current Ajax side which has come on leaps and bounds in a short space of time. Their mix of youth and attacking flair means that they’re a threat to anyone and have shocked many pundits.
Ajax’s ability to maintain their shape and keep possession has been the main features of their play. Star man Serbian Dusan Tadic has been on fire as have some of the less experienced players such as de Jong and de Ligt.
Liverpool Cruising, but What About Barca?
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Klopp’s squad unquestionably boasts enough depth and attacking quality to make them a real threat against the Catalan Giants.
There are dangers with this type of game, however, particularly with Liverpool still very much in the race for the EPL title and all to play for in and everything to lost.
Liverpool will be able to call on the outstanding Virgil Van Dijk, however, who has arguably grown in the world’s best centre half but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to repel the world’s best offensive team.
Not too much should be read into Barcelona’s dispatch of Man United in the quarters as Liverpool will surely provide a much sterner test.
However, let’s not forget about Ajax – the first Dutch club to have progressed to this stage since 1997, when a side featuring Marc Overmars and Ronald de Boer were put out by Juventus as fate would have it.
This match also produced an epic contest in the first leg, with Ajax’s talented and youthful side dominating possession against a seasoned Juve outfit that looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
For all of their possession and the chances that they created, however, the Dutch side were reliant on a superb second-half goal by Brazilian winger David Neres to cancel out Ronaldo’s flying header and a potentially crucial away goal.
Ajax have become every neutrals favourite side in the UCL, especially after their demolition of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. They undoubtedly retain the quality and pace to finish the job against Spurs too, and it’s unlikely that they’ll adapt their way of playing whatever approach their EPL opponents adopt.
Still, there remains a sneaking suspicion that Spurs experienced and battle-weary troops will ultimately win the day, especially if star man Harry Kane is on the field. In any case, this one is too close to call.
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