Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has called on his team to come together to make up for the absence of their stars against an impressive attacking force in Ajax Amsterdam.
Pochettino anticipated a ‘magic night’ in Spurs brand new stadium for their Champions League first leg semi-final.
Speaking ahead of a match that could very well be filled with goals given the way these two sides have played this season, Pochettino said:
“We have a great opportunity to be here playing in the semi-final. It is our first semi-final in the Champions League and that’s why must show respect for the competition and the opponents because it’s going to be so tough. Ajax fully deserve to be where they are and it’s going to be very competitive game.
“The most important thing is what we create – that spirit that makes you believe all is possible and you can achieve all you want.
“We will miss players who are not available but always the most important is that genuine feeling we can achieve all as a collective. That is our strength, that we think like a team, and it’s difficult to create that only through talking. We are working a lot to deliver that.
“It will be a magic night because to play a semi-final in our new stadium is something nobody could believe or think a few months ago, but we are here.”
Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag shrugged off Pochettino’s earlier suggestion that Ajax have an unfair advantage before Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg in London. The Dutch side have had a week off to prepare for this match, whereas Spurs played on Saturday, losing 1-0 to West Ham in the Premier League. The Dutch side also have relatively few injury concerns.
Ten Hag suggested that any Premier League team can have little gripe when it comes to competitions being unfair given the advantage the Premier Leagues enormous TV deals gives English teams in the Champions League.
“We get €10 million for playing in the Eredivisie and they get many more millions for being in the Premier League. Is that not unfair on us?” he told The Daily Mail.
“There are always differing circumstances. Everybody has different circumstances. You just have to deal with them. That’s what we do.”
Pochettino knows not to underestimate his Dutch opponents, who have humbled the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus during this campaign.
“To reach the semi-final means they have a lot of quality and of course unbelievable players. Ajax are doing fantastically. They were unbeaten in the group stage against tough teams like Bayern Munich and then beating Real Madrid and Juventus. Only the results describe how strong the team is.
“We can talk about quality but I think it’s difficult to find some weakness. It’s a team which deserves a lot of credit, the manager and the players are doing a fantastic job. A little bit like us, no-one believed Ajax could arrive in the semi-final, but we are there because we deserve to be,” he said.
It seems that we are all set for a spicy challenge between these two ambitious clubs, stay right here for the goals as they go in. Updates will be performed on this post throughout the night.