Tottenham’s perfect start to life at their new stadium came to a shuddering halt in a 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Saturday, but the warning signs have been there for a few games now. A laboured victory over Brighton last week suggested that Spurs’ momentum was grinding to a halt, even if it did all but secure Champions League football for them.
The truth of the matter is that Tottenham don’t have a big enough squad to play every four days on a regular basis.
They have lost Harry Kane to injury again, although that seems to be something that spurs them on rather than slow them down. Kane’s absences have coincided with some of Spurs’ most impressive series of results this season, however, his absence also increases their dependency on Heung Min Son.
The South Korean has been Tottenham’s talisman in the knockout stages of the Champions League and is largely responsible for their participation in the last four, but misses the first leg through suspension after he picked up a yellow card at the Etihad last time out.
Missing two of their best attacking players, it is difficult to see where Tottenham’s goal threat is going to come from.
The same cannot be said about Ajax.
The Dutch club have been a revelation in the Champions League this season and people are running out of superlatives to describe their brand of football. They have gone to Juventus and Real Madrid and played both European powerhouses off the park.
The Eredivisie leaders come into this game in a rich vein of form, winning seven of their last eight games in all competitions. They will also be far fresher than Tottenham after the Dutch FA cancelled last weekend’s round of Eredivisie fixtures in order to bolster Ajax’s chances. They look set to make it three successive wins away from home in Europe and take a major step towards their first final appearance since 1996.
One thing that Ajax absolutely guarantee is goals. A staggering 111 goals in just 32 Eredivisie games is impressive in its own right, but they have been similarly lethal in front of goal on the European stage against some of the best teams in the world.
A 4-1 annihilation of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the round of 16 caught most people’s attention, but it was against Juventus in Turin where Ajax were at their free-flowing best. Only some uncharacteristically poor finishing prevented Ajax from inflicting further damage to Juventus as they regularly cut through a team renowned for its defensive ability with absolute ease.
They have scored in every single Champions League game this season and if Tottenham defend like they did in the first 20 minutes against Man City at the Etihad, it could get ugly.
While Tottenham can boast an impressive record of scoring in every Champions League match they have played – a statistic made all the more impressive when the quality of opposition is taken into account – the absence of their leading scorers should see them struggle to keep up with the Dutch side’s pace.
Still, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City have all failed to keep a clean sheet against Spurs in the Champions League this season and if both clubs can maintain their record of scoring in every game there is an excellent chance that they will surpass the 3.5 goal mark.
*All odds correct at time of posting