Tottenham Hotspur may have taken a hit in their pursuit of the Champions League final last night, as they lost 1-0 at home to Ajax in the semi-final first leg, but all is not lost.
Spurs still have the chance to go to the Netherlands and put in a big away performance to achieve qualification and the right to play either Liverpool or Barcelona in June.
So, here are the five things they must do to overcome the Dutch:
A simple yet effective way to improve the team. Son will be back from his suspension in the away leg, and Spurs must keep him fit and injury free to start the game. If Tottenham are to qualify for the final, I am sure that man will have a huge part to play in it. Sonny showed what he can do both home and away against Dortmund and Man City, and he certainly has the ability to grab a come of away goals single-handedly.
Get Sissoko fit enough to start-
Embarrassing as it is, Moussa Sissoko was Tottenham’s man of the match against Ajax last night, despite not even starting the match. The Frenchman came on to replace the concussed Jan Vertonghen and proceeded to boss the centre of the park. He was strong, tackled well, and drove at the heart of the Ajax defence. There is a reason many have tipped him for Tottenham’s player of the season, and he must start against Ajax in the away leg.
Tottenham were too weak in the challenge early on against Ajax at home. They gave them time and space on the ball, and allowed them to play to their strengths, will one-touch football in the centre of the pitch. Having the likes of Sissoko and Wanyama closing down and flying into challenges, as Dann Rose did throughout the first leg, will go a long way to winning the ball back and negating the best part of Ajax’s game.
Watching Ajax’s last League match, I noticed that both goals conceded in their 4-2 win came from crosses towards the back post. With Sonny, Lucas, Dele, Llorente, or whoever Spurs play up top, flooding the box and Eriksen, Trippier and Rose crossing, Spurs could find some joy. Just look at last night’s game, both Llorente and Alderweireld had good chances from aerial free kicks.
The high press has become a feature of Tottenham’s game under Pochettino, with the likes of Kane, Son, Moura, Alli, Eriksen, and the wingbacks defending from the front with pace and aggression. However, in the home leg, Spurs rarely pressed high up the pitch, and when they did, they did it one or two at a time, leaving Ajax to carve through it easily. This meant that the Dutch side were able to bypass multiple Tottenham players with one simple pass. In the away leg, Spurs must put pressure on the youngsters high up the pitch and hope for mistakes.
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