Last week of Champions League gave us some great football highlights. In London, Ajax continued its rampant campaign and is one step closer to get a perfect conclusion to their incredible season. The Dutch team capitalized on the absences of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and ran away with a 1-0-win, courtesy of youngster Donny Van De Beek. Solid at the back and holding the advantage for the second leg, Ajax will also be extra motivated for the second leg in Amsterdam, after conquering the KNVB Cup this weekend, crushing Willem II in the final (4-0). Will they get back to the Champions League final for the first time since 1997, or will we see another super display from Son to take Spurs one step further?
In the other fixture in Barcelona, the usual hero rose to the occasion. We could pretend to be surprised, but we all know that when Lionel Messi appears at a party, there is no chance for the opposition. With an out-of-this-world free kick, and the help of sidekick Luis Suarez, Barcelona is going to Anfield with a 3-0 lead. Not bad, especially considering Barcelona is already Spanish champions and have rested their players this weekend, while Liverpool had to struggle against Newcastle this weekend and added some names to their medical sheet.
Liverpool vs. Barcelona, May 7
Even though Jurgen Klopp said that last week’s game in Camp Nou was one of the best displays by the Reds, the soccer game is based on goals, and when you have Messi on your side, that part becomes easier. After being 3-0 down, can we believe in an epic comeback in Anfield?
Nothing is impossible for the team who never walks alone, but the likelihood of that happening isn’t much. Since Barcelona secured La Liga last week, it had the opportunity to rest almost all its main players. Even though Barcelona lost 2-0 against Celta de Vigo on Saturday, it made sure that both the starting attacking trio, as well as the centerback partnership of Pique and Lenglet, were completely healthy for the return leg in Liverpool.
Liverpool is still on the hunt for a possible Premier League title and the Reds had to sweat in St. James Park against an eager Newcastle team. An 86th-minute header by substitute Divock Origi made Liverpool fans sigh in relief, but the extra effort they had to put in this match will probably add some fatigue to the players’ legs. If this wasn’t enough, Klopp confirmed both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are both dealing with injuries and won’t be able to get on the field tomorrow. With all this in mind, expect Barcelona to hold the advantage with a draw at Anfield or watch as Messi steals the show once again in England and the “blaugrana” get the ticket to the final with a win.
Liverpool to win (+135)
Barcelona to win (+175)
Ajax vs. Tottenham, May 8
After defeating Real Madrid and Juventus at their own turf, Ajax went to London to make sure that Tottenham got its first international defeat at their brand-new stadium last time out. Van de Beek’s goal was enough for a tight advantage, so Amsterdam will be lit for a possible Ajax return to a final of a Champions League. The Dutch are having one of their best seasons and are the only team besides Barcelona still capable of conquering a Treble–league, cup and Champions League.
Spurs aren’t having a very bright end of the season. Despite being in a Champions League semifinal for the first time and still holding on in the top four of the Premier League, the team from North London is on a losing streak, after two consecutive losses to West Ham and Bournemouth. The last game even saw them ending with nine players on the pitch after Juan Foyth and Son picked up red cards. It doesn’t look pretty, and if they don’t win against Everton on the last matchday, they might even fail to qualify to Champions League next season.
How can Spurs turn this bad luck around and get a comeback in Amsterdam? First they will have their leading man Son back to action, after he missed last week’s match due to suspension. Since he will miss next week’s Premier League match, this might be Son’s last match of the season- unless he drives the team to the Champions League final. He already did a one-man show against Manchester City and Dortmund, so will he be able to stun the young, astute Ajax squad?
Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen, who suffered an injury during last week’s game and had to leave early on, is still in doubt for this match. After missing Bournemouth over the weekend, his possible absence in this game might be crucial. If he returns and he is back to full form, Vertonghen will be important to stop the Dutch attacking prowess. For the reasons listed the outcome of this match isn’t as easy as the other semifinal, but if you are not keen in backing up Tottenham for a miraculous comeback, trust in Ajax to retain the advantage with a draw.
Ajax to win (+115)