At the start of the ties, anything seemed possible. I thought the first legs would’ve seen home wins where both teams scored. Those results would’ve given us an excellent chance of an all-English final, but it wasn’t to be.
Spurs might be outsiders to qualify for the final, but what Liverpool wouldn’t give to be in their position right now. The Reds lost 3-0 last week, and are now priced at 11/1 to make it to the final in Madrid. The rules of what constitutes a legendary European night at Anfield will have to be rewritten if Jürgen’s boys can pull this miracle escape off.
What makes it worse for Kopites is that their side had several decent chances at Camp Nou. Missing three clear-cut chances in the first leg against Bayern Munich proved not to matter, but Liverpool’s European run will end here thanks to them having repeated the trick against Barcelona.
And perhaps we shouldn’t rule out a remarkable turnaround. Barcelona lost 3-0 at Roma last season to exit the competition, while the Reds’ home form has been largely exemplary for a couple of years.
They’ve had at least three clear-cut chances in every home Champions League match this season, so a continuation of that form will at least give them the opportunity to get the result they need. A three-goal deficit will prove to be a bridge too far though.
Best bet: Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 5/2.
For Tottenham, while it won’t be easy the picture is far healthier: they’re 5/2 to reach the final.
However, they’ll have to buck the trend of recent Champions League history if they’re to get through, as no team has lost the first leg of a semi-final and qualified since 2007.
There have also been 16 knockout ties where the away side won the first leg 1-0 in the last 16 seasons, and 15 of them made it to the next round.
Perhaps most relevant is the fact Tottenham’s away form stinks at the moment. They’ve lost nine of their last 10 matches on the road, and even though that includes playing both Chelsea and Manchester City twice, it’s not a record to inspire confidence.
Ajax may not have won any of their last three home games in Europe, but they are the only team left in the competition to have scored in all of their Champions League games this season. They will look forward to picking off Spurs on the counter.
Tottenham will probably score, but I reckon Ajax will win the match and progress to the final.
Best bet: Ajax to win and both teams to score at 11/4.
Goals, goals, goals
One thing which will give Spurs’ supporters hope is the return from European suspension of Son Heung-Min, at the time he begins one in the league. The Korean international is their joint-top scorer in the competition, with all four of his goals coming in the knockout phase.
The main man for the home team in recent rounds has been Hakim Ziyech, who has scored or assisted a goal in four of their five knockout matches. He’ll be in the thick of the action as Ajax get the goals to settle the tie.
Best bets: Son Heung-Min to score anytime at 6/4 and Hakim Ziyech to score anytime at 11/5.
Liverpool are all but out because Sadio Mané, James Milner and Mohamed Salah all missed great chances at Camp Nou. Who will attempt to make amends at Anfield?
The Reds have to pin their hopes upon Mané, as it looks likely both Firmino and Salah will miss out through injury. As the Senegalese star has scored 11 goals in his last 11 games at Anfield, there are worse saviours to look toward.
While I obviously wouldn’t dissuade you from selecting Lionel Messi for your Barca pick, could anything be more like Luis Suárez than scoring against his former team and celebrating like a maniac?
Well, he could bite van Dijk or someone, but this is just the occasion he will savour.
*All odds correct at time of posting.