Despite all doubts, Ajax continue rowing their boat to the finals of the Champions League, and while no one expected them to even advance from 1/8 finals, Ajax are now only 1 match away from reaching the finals and potentially winning their 5th UCL title.
The question that could be read all over the sports news; Can Ajax do it? We’ve heard it when the Holland team got paired with Real Madrid, once again when they got paired with Juventus in the quarter-finals and we can see the question popping up in sports news once more now that Ajax await to face off against Tottenham in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. But can they do it? Can Ajax eliminate Tottenham and dig their way to the finals of the UCL?
When the draw of UCL playoffs was released, Ajax fell into the category of teams that will have to be satisfied with the fact they got so far, however, had to realize they lack the quality to proceed deeper into the Champions League. This is something everyone should agree with. Even the most diehard Ajax fans knew they stand little to no chance against Real Madrid, who were their first opponents in the 1/8 finals of UCL. After the first leg, Real managed to grab a 1 goal lead, which seemed like it was more than enough for the Los Blancos to advance. But what happened at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on March 5th is something that will be remembered for years to come. Ajax defeated the 13-times UCL champions 1:4. In their own country, at their own stadium, in front of their own fans.
At this point, many football fans marked that match as a very unusual upset, but an upset nonetheless. It’s not that uncommon to see a weaker team defeating a much, much stronger team. While the upsets of such magnitude are rarely seen, they have happened before. So the next opponent for Ajax were no other than Juventus, the Italian giants who are still hungry for the UCL trophy, which always seems to slip away from them. Despite not holding as many UCL trophies as Real Madrid, Juventus were and still are considered to be one of the best teams in the world, which should be enough to stop Ajax right? Well… not precisely. The first match in the Netherlands ended in a draw 1:1, which gave Juventus a great chance to advance into semi-finals. That as we all know now did not happen. Ajax once again shocked the world with a 1:2 win, thus earning themselves a spot in the semi-finals.
At this point we must ask ourselves; are Ajax just that lucky, did they pay some kind of voodoo witch to cast a spell on their opponents or maybe it was just another upset win. At the end of the day, if a team comes as far as Ajax managed to come, there must be something they are doing right.
After knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus, the UCL served Ajax another opponent on their plate; Tottenham. Comparing Tottenham to Real Madrid and Juventus, it would be hard to rank them against each other. While I would comfortably say Tottenham is not as good as Real Madrid and Juventus a week ago, I do believe Tottenham does have something going for them. At the end of the day, they managed to knock out Manchester City out of the tournament in what can only be described as one of the best matches we have ever seen in the UCL.
Both teams deserve some praise for getting so far into the tournament. While I do believe Tottenham are a far stronger team than Ajax, I did think the same in the 1/8 finals as well as quarter-finals. Should there be no dark magic involved which will help Ajax in winning yet again, it should be the English side who will come out of these semi-finals victorious. And while I would put my money on Tottenham, we cannot underestimate Ajax, who are in semi-finals for a reason.