Heung-min Son will be back and Mauricio Pochettino has learned lessons… Five reasons why Tottenham CAN overturn Champions League deficit against Ajax in Amsterdam
Tottenham will travel to Amsterdam as underdogs next week after losing the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in London.
Ajax have already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus, so will be well fancied to convert their 1-0 lead into a place in June’s final.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s team should not be written off and Sportsmail has come up with five reasons for Spurs fans to feel optimistic ahead of the second leg on Wednesday, May 8.
Tottenham lost to Ajax in Tuesday’s first leg but there is still at least another 90 minutes to play
Here comes the Son
Tottenham played the first leg without their two leading scorers, as Harry Kane injured and Heung-min Son were suspended. It is no coincidence that Spurs could only manage one shot on target.
But Son will be back available for the second leg. The South Korean, who has netted 17 times in his last 29 club games, will not only provide some much-needed potency in the finishing department. He also has the pace and skill to stretch Ajax’s defence.
Heung-min Son, pictured (left) speaking to Sky Sport, will be available for the second leg
Ajax have a Cup final on Sunday
Much was made of Ajax being given extra time to prepare for the first leg after the Dutch FA postponed a whole weekend of Eredivisie fixtures to keep them fresh.
But Ajax will not have the same luxury ahead of Wednesday’s clash in Amsterdam because they are due to face Willem II in the Dutch Cup final on Sunday at 5pm.
Tottenham’s next game is away to Bournemouth at 12.30pm on Saturday, so they will have more than 24 hours extra preparation time for the second leg compare to Ajax.
Ajax’s players have a Dutch Cup final to negotiate before their next meeting with Tottenham
Pochettino will be wiser
The damage was done early on Tuesday night as Tottenham were overrun by Ajax’s high press inside the opening 30 minutes.
But from the moment Moussa Sissoko replaced Jan Vertonghen and Spurs changed shape, the game was much more even. Spurs worked their opponents out as the game wore on.
Pochettino admitted he got his tactics wrong at the start, telling BT Sport after the game: ‘I can accept it was a mistake, the shape we used.’
He will be be wiser in the second leg. He now has a better knowledge of how Ajax like — and don’t like — to play.
Mauricio Pochettino admitted to making a tactical mistake at the start of Tuesday’s first leg
Away goals rule
On the face of it, losing the home leg is pretty bad. And indeed only one of the last 17 teams to taste defeat at home in the first leg of a European Cup semi-final has gone on to progress.
But Spurs should take encouragement from the away goals rule. Yes, they conceded in London but only once. The result means that they just have to win by any score in Amsterdam.
If Spurs score once in Holland, they will put Ajax under huge pressure. And score they should — Ajax have failed to keep a clean sheet in seven of their 11 Champions League games this season, while Spurs netted three times at Manchester City.
Spurs scored three away goals against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the tournament
It’s an even content
Ajax are an excellent young side, as demonstrated by their fine wins over Real Madrid and Juventus.
But they are not noticeably superior to Spurs. Both sides have strengths and weaknesses, with Ajax known to struggle against a direct style of play.
Tuesday’s game was an even contest. Both sides won three corners and committed 14 fouls, while Spurs marginally edged possession with 51 per cent. The shot counts were also close, with Tottenham trying their luck 12 times, to Ajax’s 10.
The point is, it was pretty much a 50-50 game and the second leg is likely to be similar. With Son back in their attack, Spurs will have one of the most potent finishers in Europe on their side. One shot of high-quality could make all the difference.