It is the game of champions; the UEFA Champions League. The UEFA Champions League is down to the last four teams. Three former winners and a first time semi-finalist are vying for places in 2019 finals which would be played at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. 1995 winners – Ajax AFC will fancy their chances against Tottenham Hotspur as they target a place in the final for the first time since 1996. 10 European Cups split evenly is between Spanish champions – Barcelona and 2018 Champions League finalists – Liverpool sees two European household names take on each other in this heavyweight duel for a place in Madrid. Lionel Messi is obsessed with winning the trophy while Liverpool will be determined to have another taste at glory having come so close last year.
Here is our preview of the first legs of the semi-finals.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v AJAX AFC – TUE. 30 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Tottenham Hotspur will be making their first semi-finals appearance in the Europe’s premier competition which is a testament to work done by Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs fans are permitted to be excited; they are 180 minutes away from the Champions League final. However, they face an in-form side who has earned their place in the last four. Ajax’s run to the semis has been that of David conquering Goliath twice. The Dutch giants are enjoying an excellent campaign under Erik Ten Hag and should have no fear having taken out Real Madrid and Juventus along the way. The home team is the one under pressure having lost in the Premier League at their new stadium on Saturday for the first time. They would be hoping to avoid similar result against de Godenzonen who are unbeaten in eight Champions League away matches.
VERDICT – Spurs won the previous two meetings between these sides but the English team will be fully aware of the strengths and ability of this fearless Dutch team. The home team is without Harry Kane and Hueng-Min Son which would take a lot out of their attacking options but Tottenham have been strong at home in the competition this season. Ajax’s belief is probably at an all-time high having played in Munich, Madrid and Turin; leaving all three venues without defeat. Ten Hag’s team style makes them difficult to defeat and we expect Ajax continue with their similar approach. Expect goals from both teams in what should be an intriguing game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
BARCELONA v LIVERPOOL – WED. 01 MAY 2019, 20.00HRS
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Will Barcelona become the second successive Spanish team to end Liverpool’s European dreams? The Catalan giants led by Lionel Messi are eager to land their sixth European title having seen their arch-rival (Real Madrid) dominate the European scene lately. It is the same team that denied Liverpool their sixth European crown. Barcelona secured their eight LaLiga title over the weekend; they can channel their fully attention to Champions League while Jurgen Klopp’s team is still in neck deep in the Premier League title race. Liverpool’s high-tempo pressing, and fast transition from ball-winning to goalscoring, should unsettle Barcelona. However, the Reds have to deal with the man on a mission – Messi; he singlehandedly took Manchester United out in the last round and would be Barcelona’s go-to man.
VERDICT – Ernesto Valverde’s team are unbeaten in 31 games in the competition at home – that’s the challenge for Liverpool if they aim to progress to another final. It hasn’t been an easy run for the Reds; losing all three away matches in the group stages but have been much stronger and better in the knockout phase. We anticipate proper football as predicted by the German tactician over two legs. The home team is still in the hunt for a treble and would hope to take an advantage with them to Anfield next Tuesday. This is a proper test for both teams; Valverde is demanding that his team win every battle because their visitors don’t give much away across the park. Playing in front of a parked Camp Nou should give Barcelona a marginally edge in the first leg.
This wraps us the first leg Semi-finals preview. You can win big by predicting in the money spinning competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers for these semi-final UCL matches.