Tottenham host Ajax in the first leg of a huge Champions League semi final encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday.
The demand of a gruelling fixture list finally caught up with Mauricio Pochettino's side at the weekend, as Spurs suffered their first defeat at their new stadium, losing 1-0 to West Ham on Saturday, and the Tottenham boss blamed his side's 'stress and fatigue' for the defeat.
Jan Vertoghen was omitted from the squad to face the Hammers as Pochettino seemingly had one eye already on Tuesday's clash, such is the magnitude of a tantalising European semi final, particularly with the first leg on home soil, as Spurs will be desperate to seize the initiative.
Here's 90min's preview of a huge Champions League encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Tuesday 30 April|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 2|
Tottenham will be without Son Heung-min for the first leg of the semi final after the in-form attacker picked up his third yellow card of the tournament in the second leg against Manchester City in the previous round.
Fellow striker Harry Kane remains absent with a ligament injury which has kept the England captain out since early April, whilst Pochettino will face similar problems in midfield as both Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko are set to miss out for the home side.
However, Spurs' defensive ranks are likely to be bolstered by the return of Vertonghen to the fold. The Belgium international was rested for Saturday's defeat to West Ham, but should return to face his former side in north London.
Meanwhile, Ajax have their own injury problems in almost all areas of the pitch. Winger Hassane Bande continues to recover from fibula shaft fractures, whilst defensive midfielder Carel Eiting and right back Noussair Mazraoui continue to nurse knee and ankle injuries respectively.
|Tottenham||Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Dier, Wanyama, Rose; Eriksen, Alli; Lucas Moura|
|Ajax||Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Schone, Van de Beek, De Jong; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres|
Head to Head Record
If a defeat to West Ham heading into Tuesday's encounter may have clouded Tottenham's preparations with doubt, Spurs can take encouragement from the fact that they have beaten Ajax on each of the side's previous meetings.
The two sides have met just twice previously, with both encounters coming in the 1981 European Cup Winners' Cup.
Spurs won 3-1 on the first occasion in Amsterdam, with a brace from Mark Falco and a Ricky Villa strike guiding Keith Burkinshaw's side to victory, before the north Londoners secured a 3-0 success in the second meeting at White Hart Lane. Tony Galvin, Falco and Ossie Ardiles were on the scoresheet in north London.
Saturday's defeat to West Ham in the Premier League came as a blow to Spurs in the build-up to their Champions League showdown, but Pochettino's side have been in otherwise decent form of late.
A trilogy of encounters with Manchester City saw Tottenham overcome Pep Guardiola's side over the two legs of their Champions League quarter final tie, though the north Londoners did lose to the champions when they met later in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Ajax have been going strong in the Eredivisie to match up their domestic form with their Champions League heroics. Recent league wins over Groningen and Vitesse have followed on from Erik ten Hag's side's stunning quarter final victory over Juventus.
Significantly, Ajax will have enjoyed a full week's rest without a match by the time the two side's meet on Tuesday, having had their scheduled Eredivisie clash at the weekend postponed to enable them more preparation time for the Champions League clash.
Here is a look at how both sides have fared in their previous five outings:
|Tottenham 0-1 West Ham
|Ajax 4-2 Vitesse
|Tottenham 1-0 Brighton
|Groningen 0-1 Ajax
|Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham
|Juventus 1-2 Ajax
|Manchester City 4-3 Tottenham
|Ajax 6-2 Excelsior
|Tottenham 4-0 Huddersfield
|Ajax 1-1 Juventus
Ajax have proved that they are capable of upsetting the greatest of odds against the most elite European sides with victories over Real Madrid and Juventus in the competition already this season, and won at both the Bernabeu and the Allianz Stadium en route to the semi finals.
Erik ten Hag's side will certainly fancy their chances of following in West Ham's footsteps from last weekend and upsetting the moving-in party at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Tottenham essentially novices at this stage of Europe's elite competition.
Pochettino's side appeared tired and weary against the Hammers on Saturday and could struggle to live with a youthfully exuberant and energetic Ajax side, who will not be intimidated by the magnitude of the occasion.
Spurs must ensure that they keep things tight at the back and do not get caught out against the visitor's explosive pace on the break, and could be content to keep themselves in the tie for the second leg, against a side which will have had a full week's rest.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Ajax
Source : 90min