Sports Monks

UEFA Champions League Semi Finals – Past Meetings & Future Expectations

UEFA-semi-finlas

Liverpool take on FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur face Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals for the 18/19 season. Spurs and Barcelona play the first leg at home, and will have to travel to Amsterdam and Merseyside respectively for the return legs.

Champions League Semi Final 1: Tottenham v/s Ajax

Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the semi-finals, beating Manchester City on the away goals rule. The English side looks good value for their berth, and will be looking to beat this very young Ajax side, whose players the entire footballing world has eyes upon.

In past clashes, Tottenham have emerged victorious on both meetings (1981), scoring 3 goals in each game. However, with their star talisman Harry Kane out injured for the tie, the goal scoring burden shifts on to Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura. The pair has been in sizzling hot form recently, Son scoring thrice over 2 legs against Man City, and Moura netting a hat-trick against Huddersfield in the league. The Matthijs De Ligt led Ajax defence kept Juventus down to 2 goals in 2 legs, and the young captain will have to put in a determined performance to keep the Premier League side at bay.

Ajax’s attacking system is a marvel to watch. It is easy on the eyes and destructive in the extreme. Dusan Tadic has donned the false 9 role to great effect, and Hakim Ziyech and David Neres have been simply sensational in their link up play and chance creation. The work ethic of this Ajax side, combined with the sheer quality they possess on the ball make this game an extremely exciting prospect.

It is a point worthy of noting that the 3 top choice Tottenham Hotspur centre halves (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez) all are former Ajax players.

Key battles:

  • Tusan Tadic v/s Toby Alderwiereld
  • David Neres v/s Victor Wanyama

Champions League Semi Final 2: Barcelona v/s Liverpool

2 of the most decorated clubs in the competition’s history, both Barcelona and Liverpool have won the title 5 times. In previous clashes, the English side has gotten the better of the current Spanish champions thrice, suffering 2 losses. In their most recent meeting (2007), both won a game each, but Liverpool went through on away goals.

In those 12 years, a lot of change has taken place. Jurgen Klopp has employed a high energy pressing system with his full backs, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson the main creators. Barcelona meanwhile, rely on a more ‘controlled chaos’ system, with Lionel Messi the predominant creative and goal scoring threat. Neutralising Messi will be key to Liverpool’s hopes, but Fabinho, Van Dijk and Wijnaldum will have to be at the pinnacle of their abilities to stop the mercurial Argentine.

The tie also marks Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho encountering their previous clubs, and the latter is likely to be met by a very hostile environment for the return leg at Anfield, after his £142m (Inclusive of all clauses) forced move away last season.

Key battles:

  • Lionel Messi v/s Fabinho
  • Jordi Alba v/s Trent Alexander-Arnold

2 extremely entertaining semi-final ties await!

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