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Semi Champions League, 1st stage: predictions and key battles



The Champions League is coming back and there are only four teams left, the path to fame is wide open. Each of the remaining parties has a chance, but anyway, question marks around their challenge. Can Liverpool break through Lionel Messi & Co. to deny his Treble push? And which of the losers will win the second semifinal?

Here's all you need to know from superheroes and sidekicks who can decide to tie up keys for victory.

Go to: Tottenham-Ajax | Liverpool-Barcelona


Tottenham v. Ajax

WHEN: Tuesday, April 30, 15:00. ET / 7 hrs BST

BACKSTORY: Ajax prides itself on its glorious past because they have eliminated the perennial Serie A Juventus perennials and the Real Madrid Champions League to make it to the semifinals. The quality, freshness and fearlessness of these matches made them the favorites of the neutral. They are tied at the top of the Dutch league and in the Dutch Cup final, so they also have the Treble ambition.

Tottenham has lost more than half of the games they have played since Valentine's Day, but still hangs third in the Premier League and kicked out mighty Manchester City to get that far. That there are four in the finals is remarkable due to the rash injuries they have suffered – especially Captain Harry Kane, who is off his feet – and their limited resources. Limited relative to most, but not Ajax: in any other season, Spurs would be Cinderella's team at this stage.

HOW ARE WE: Tottenham is sometimes more pragmatic, but there is much in common between the two sides playing Toby and Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, who have spent almost three decades in Ajax together with youth and seniors. levels, there will be little surprise.

Given the absence of Kane and the fact that Ajax's approach is changing little at home and beyond (regardless of the opposition's pedigree), you can imagine that Spurs is using a counterattack, especially with Lucas Mourou.

TOTTENHAM & S STAR SEARCH: Eriksen. He's at a crossroads in many ways. It has yet to extend the contract, which expires in June 2020, indicating that it is open to summer movement. Wouldn't the decisive turn in the Champions League semifinals be the final shop window? He faces his past, but he is also a man who cannot create anything for Tottenham and who will have to wear it as he did so many times before.

SEARCH AJAX S STAR: Frenkie De Jong. She embodies a modern two-way midfielder, with the added wrinkle she carries with her charism and personality far beyond his years. In the summer he makes a jump to Barcelona, ​​but very few 21-year-olds seem to be ready for this quantum leap.

Ajax set off for the holders of Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semi-finals. Next is Tottenham on their list? Tullio Puglia – UEFA / UEFA via Getty Images

X-FACTOR, TOTTENHAM: Dele Alli. He did not keep gaudy past seasons (he had 22 goals in 2016-17 compared to seven this year), partly because he lost seven weeks and partly because he had to reappear as a human being. The jack-plug jack of all the stores gave Spurs a lot of injuries, especially on Wednesday. But he has the dynamism and selflessness to deal with Ajax, and if he can save Ajax from going to the center of the field, he can change that path of Tottenham.

X-FACTOR, AJAX: David Neres. In 22, he is still very raw, but his dribling abilities and unpredictability make him a true handful. Within a philosophy that carefully balances a team against an individual, it may occasionally lean toward it (which may be why it had a bumpy start at the start of the campaign), which makes it 180 minutes less valuable.

TOTTENHAM NEED … find a makeshift combination in the middle of the field that can see them (which will not be easy, given the likely absence of Moussa Sissoka and Harry Winks) without leaving the Ajax initiative, while Eriksena would be in a position to create.

AJAX WE NEED … don't let the intensity and boldness drop simply because Tottenham's pedigree is not the same as their previous Champions League Champions (Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern), while securing the medieval duo Daley Blind and Matthijs de Ligt must do as they defend against Lucas Mour only possible.

FORECAST: Tottenham 2-1 Ajax. Momentum is not with Tottenham and the backup is a mystery, but otherwise they do not respond badly to Ajax.


Barcelona vs. Liverpool

WHEN: Wednesday 1 May, 15:00. ET / 7 hrs BST

BACKSTORY: Barcelona has won La Liga on Saturday and will play Valencia in the final of the Spanish Cup later this month, which means they are still on their way to Treble. It would be their third place since 2008, which is a certain success when you believe that it has only been achieved three times in the first 40 years of European football.

Last year, Liverpool reached the Champions League final, but unlike then – when they came out of domestic dispute early – they are now proud of their Manchester City Premier League title. In all competitions they won 10 games in a row and look stronger and more complete than last year.

HOW ARE WE: It was a rarity for the team to score 100 goals in all competitions, but Liverpool passed this mark on Saturday and Barcelona returned it in February. Although both can do (and do) a lot, there is a much more patient, defensive dimension to what they do. Jurgen Klopp only circulates out of his "heavy metal" all-out press intermittently, and compared to previous incarnations, this Barca side is more safely oriented in the middle of the park. The fact that both have an excellent goalkeeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alisson adds another layer of strength.

BARCELONA STAR looks: Lionel Messi. It averages more than the goal of the game (again), while it plays an even greater role than ever before in terms of dropping deep and creating chances for others. You will find your own superlatives here.

Premier Premier League player, Virgil van Dijk OLI SCARFF / AFP / Getty Images

LIVERPOOL Star: LIVERPOOL Star: Virgil van Dijk. Few signatures have been as transformative in recent years as the arrival of the Dutch at Anfield in January 2018. The colossus in the air, his work in reading the game and sorting his back four, in which both attacks often hit, is second. none.

X-FACTOR, BARCELONA: Jordi Alba. He has 16 assists in all competitions this year from the left and almost supernatural understanding with Messi, who often cut from the opposite wing. He will be against Trento Alexander-Arnold and Muhammad Salah, which means Liverpool will have to get a midfielder to help him when he does. Except he can't afford it because Messi is on the other side …

X-FACTOR, LIVERPOOL: Roberto Firmino. He is a middle striker who doesn't have so many points (he broke a 20-goal mark in his career only twice), but his tremendous movement and work outside the ball is more than they can do. Between Sergio Busquets in the middle of the field and Gerard Pique in the back, Barcelona does not want to lose sight.

BARCELONA NEEDS … Dictating the game in the middle of the field and pin back Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, Liverpool's full-backs while denying the services of Salah and Sadio Mane, especially in the transition.

LIVERPOOL WE NEED … Keep in mind Messi all the time, but especially when he drops back to creation. Make sure that the front three are not insulated while retaining their shape.

FORECAST: Liverpool 1-2 Barcelona. Two evenly balanced sides, but one of them has Messi, the other does not.


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