UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Tips and Predictions

Can Ajax record another big away win in Europe? (PA Images)

Can Liverpool pull off another Champions League miracle to wrestle a place in the final away from Barcelona, and will Tottenham Hotspur overcome a one-goal deficit when they head to Amsterdam?

Liverpool v Barcelona

If Liverpool are to seal a return to the Champions League Final they are going to need to produce another famous European night at Anfield. The Reds trail Barcelona by three goals heading into the second leg of their semi-final tie, but it is somewhat difficult to work out how they have given themselves such a mountain to climb. The 3-0 scoreline, with two goals coming late on, really did not tell the story of a match in which Liverpool had some huge chances and should have at least scored two away goals. James Milner rammed a glorious chance down the throat of the goalkeeper and Mohamed Salah’s killer instinct deserted him as he slammed an effort against the post, and if just one of those shots had gone in this tie would have had a different feel. Barcelona would have still been overwhelming favourites, but Liverpool would have had an away goal to their name and as we have seen already in this competition, that could have been huge. That is not the case though and now Jurgen Klopp must mastermind the biggest of comebacks. But can he? The Reds are sweating on the fitness of Salah after he suffered a head injury in the weekend win at Newcastle United, and his absence would be a massive blow to them. However, as we saw in the first leg Liverpool are more than capable of slicing open that Barcelona defence and with a partisan Anfield crowd roaring them on we should see more of the same in the return. This time I expect the Reds to take their chances, but the problem is going to come at the other end. Barca also showed that they could cut through the Liverpool defence in the blink of an eye in the first leg – their first goal was devastatingly ruthless – and while the Reds pour forward trying to turn this tie around it feels almost inevitable that they will get caught out by Lionel Messi & Co. at the other end. I do fancy Liverpool to win this return meeting, but their hopes of qualifying for the final are likely to be destroyed because Barcelona can grab an away goal that will make their already sizeable advantage even stronger.

Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur

I successfully called the first leg by backing Ajax to get the better of a Harry Kane-less and Heung-Min Son-less Tottenham Hotspur, but this return meeting at the Amsterdam Arena is going to be a little trickier to call. For starters Son will be back in the fold for the North London club and that is a gigantic boost for them because the South Korean has shown over the past few months that he can step up and fill the goal-scoring void in the absence of talismanic striker Kane. Would it shock me to see Son make an immediate impact and first Tottenham to a second-leg victory? No. However, having confidence in Mauricio Pochettino’s side right now is very, very difficult. This is a team that has struggled to win silverware in recent years despite receiving plenty of plaudits for breaking into the upper echelon of English clubs, and it is a team that has shown it can implode under serious pressure. Few fans will forget the scenes a few years ago where they went into meltdown at Chelsea to hand Leicester City the title, and history appears to be repeating itself if the past few weeks, especially Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, are anything to go by. Spurs have now lost five of their last six matches in all competitions and they have scored only one goal since that 4-3 defeat at Manchester City that proved to be enough to see them into the final four of the Champions League. And if that was not alarming enough, Saturday’s loss at Bournemouth was downright disturbing. Eric Dier should have been given his marching orders and the Cherries should have been awarded two first-half penalties before Son was sent off for pushing an opposition player. Then, within two minutes of coming on as a substitute, Juan Foyth was sent for an early shower after a reckless tackle and although Spurs were able to hang around at 0-0 until the end of regulation time they were undone by a 91st minute goal from Nathan Ake. So have Tottenham lost the plot? It would not be unfair to answer that question with a ‘yes’, so when you factor that in with Ajax’s fantastic recent form and incredible run in this competition so far, everything does point to the Dutch giants earning their first Champions League Final appearance for quite some time with another victory over Spurs.

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UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Tips and Predictions

Can Liverpool pull off another Champions League miracle to wrestle a place in the final away from Barcelona, and will Tottenham Hotspur overcome a one-goal deficit when they head to Amsterdam?

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