Semifinals of the Champions League 2018/2019

Semifinals of the Champions League 2018/2019

Semifinals Champions League
Autor betsonly 19 Apr 2019

A preview of the Champions League semi-final ties which will see Barcelona took on Liverpool, whilst Tottenham Hotspur will face Ajax.

The semi-finalists for this year’s Champions League have been determined, after a dramatic week of action which produced at least two surprise teams in the final four.

Barcelona, the new tournament favourites at 2.63, will play Liverpool (3.75), with the first leg at the Nou Camp in Spain. The Catalans got to this stage with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over Manchester United, outclassing the English team over both legs.

As ever, the heartbeat of their team is Lionel Messi, and the diminutive Argentine scored two goals in the second leg against United, one of typical brilliance. Keeping him quiet will be a major challenge for the Liverpool defence. Alongside him in attack are two former Liverpool players, Luis Suárez and Philippe Coutinho, neither of whom are in the best of form this season, but both will be happy to produce the goods against their old team.

The midfield is very functional, with Sergio Busquets in the midfield of Ivan Rakitić and Arthur, but this is not the flair tiki-taka side of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, and not so easy on the eye.

If there is a weakness it is in defence. Gerard Piqué is ageing and prone to error, whilst Clément Lenglet alongside him is still young, and both may be vulnerable to the pace of the Liverpool attacking trio of Sadio Mané, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino.

The Liverpool midfielder arguably lacks a creative player – Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Georgino Wijnaldum, or whoever Jurgen Klopp picks – are very hard working but lack flair. However, like their opponents, Liverpool have a weakness in the centre of defence. While Virgil van Dyck has been one of the best players in Europe this season, he has lacked a convincing partner since Joe Gomez got injured. Joel Matip who plays there now is an average footballer, and Barcelona could take advantage of his limitations.

At the end of the day though there is Messi, and it may be he who determines the outcome of the tie.

Few expected Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) and Ajax to contest the other semi-final. Yet Ajax went to Italy and snatched a surprise win over Juventus, whilst Spurs took a one-goal lead to fellow Premiership rivals Manchester City, and went through on the away goals rule, despite losing an extraordinary match 4 – 3 on the night.

Ajax have been arguably the team of the tournament so far, with a young side that has had scouts from across the continents watching them eagerly.

In midfield there is Frenkie de Jong, one of the brightest talents in Europe, and Barcelona-bound in the summer, whilst, behind him, his captain, Matthijs de Ligt, at 19 years old, is already coveted by half the clubs in Europe, and it was he who scored the decisive header against Juventus. Further forward there is the exciting young Brazilian David Neves on one flank, and Moroccan international Hakim Ziyeck on the other, whilst in the centre Dušan Tadić looks light years away from the player who was a virtual journeyman at Southampton last season.

Ajax are, according to the bookmakers, the outsiders of the four teams left in the competition at 6.20.

Their opponents Tottenham Hotspur are ranked at 5.50 and are in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time. Their aggregate win over City owed much to their resilience and ability to improvise, despite the loss through injury of their main striker, Harry Kane, who again will miss the Ajax tie. Instead it was South Korean forward Son Heung-min who stepped-up, scoring three of their goals in the two matches against City, and he will again have a big part to play.

Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will look to provide the creativity from midfield, although Spurs will be hoping that Moussa Sissoko recovers from the injury that saw him limp off at The Etihad. They have a solid central defence, but full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose can be attacked, whilst the goalkeeper, Hugo LLoris, despite being a French World Cup winner, has been in indifferent form this season, and is prone to mistakes.

Key to this match could be the first leg in Tottenham’s new White Hart Lane stadium, where they have yet to concede a goal. If Spurs can take a lead to Amsterdam without the Dutch side scoring, then they could triumph. But Ajax have already beaten Real Madrid and Juventus, so Tottenham should hold no fears for them.

The first legs of both ties will be played on April 30th.

*Odds are correct at the publish date.