Not an outlandish punt, but a decent price as they bossed Poch’s men less than a week ago and have shredded Juve and Madrid’s defence in the second leg of each of the previous rounds.
Now, both of those results came in the away leg when the opponent had got a textbook “good result” at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the Italian side drawing and the Spaniards winning the first leg, so that’s one difference.
And, if we were talking about other teams you might think that it would niggle at such a daring side’s fearless approach in the second leg when they’ve got something to hold – just imagine your least-favourite pundit going “they had to go for it in other second legs, will they sit back here?” – but those who give this team its driving force is unscarred by experience’s cruel blows and do not look inclined to “play it safe”, as your least-favourite pundit’s equally boring colleague might put it.
De Jong, De Ligt, Van de Beek and the rest would be taking a risk by changing their approach here, and manager Erik ten Hag knows that. They were much better than Spurs in the first leg, especially the first half, and the only surprise is they didn’t win by more. They’ll try to kill off Tottenham here and take chance out of the tie as early as possible. We’d back them to do just that at 10/11.
Spurs can obviously draw some comfort from the return of the, err, prodigal Son.
Ok, so he wasn’t off sampling Judea’s finest wines and hospitality in his week off (at least to the best of our knowledge), but the Pep slayer’s talents were clearly wasted last week due to his suspension.
Tottenham were forced to lead with Fernando Llorente, who’s only useful if he’s allowed to handle the ball it seems.
The returning Korean’s pace alone will give Spurs the chance to approach this game differently – they won’t have to lump it. He has four goals in ten games in Europe this season, and if Man United’s two years of Van Gaal’s philosophising taught us anything – other than Ryan Giggs getting trolled by his boss in public was something everyone could enjoy – it’s that Daley Blind might lose a race with coastal erosion on a bad day.
Ajax’s hard-pressing allows them to cover for most defensive issues, but there’ll be opportunities over the top for Spurs’ attackers and they have to go for this game at some point.
The Dutch champions’ clean sheet in the first leg was their first in six Champions League games, and their defence failed against the might of Zwolle, PSV, Excelsior and Vitesse in their last four Eredivisie home games, so Spurs ought to register a goal here to make things interesting.
One of their other young prospects tearing it up this season, the Brazilian forward has stood out for his speed, and probably should have a few more goals in this run.
It was he who hit the post in the second half last week, and he had chances to add to Juventus’ embarrassment in Turin too but did not snap up the multiple opportunities that fell to him as his teammates swarmed all over the Old Lady.
There’s an image for you.
He did take make his efforts count in the first leg of that tie though, and also netted versus Madrid, so it’s not a matter of stage fright or lack of bottle.
Spurs have to attack here too, and the left-back on his side, Nicolo Tagliafico, gave Kieran Trippier the runaround last week, so he’ll have plenty of support and should see a few more chances fall at his feet this time. He’s due to take one.
*All odds correct at time of posting