Champions League – Ajax approaches the final – sports

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  • Ajax Amsterdam win 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
  • Donny van de Beek scores the only goal.

The team, who otherwise only want to play forward, who want to fit and fit and fit, always at top speed, suddenly had quite a lot of time. Cozy, they played the ball back and forth, but not forward, but to the side, sometime back, to Matthijs de Ligt, the central defender. Five minutes were left to play, it counted every second, so de Ligt did something that was not intended in the game of his team. He shot the ball high and high, the ball flew, a second, two seconds, he hopped a bit along the line, then he landed in the end. De Ligt was not dissatisfied with his action.

That was perhaps the biggest surprise in this first semifinal of the Champions League on Tuesday: that Ajax Amsterdam can also defend. That this team, who intoxicated soccer football with their offensive football this season, can also play a ripped-off game without offensive tempo football.

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Ajax Amsterdam beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 (1-0) on Tuesday, with the guests having their football roaring for half an hour. After that they had kept the massive, tireless attacking hosts largely away from their own goal. With this reputable result, Ajax are now slightly favored in the return match next Wednesday in Amsterdam.

Tottenham against Ajax, that was also the duel of the two surprise teams in the semifinals of this Champions League season. Tottenham had prevailed in the knockout round earlier against Dortmund and Manchester City by Pep Guardiola, Ajax against Real Madrid and Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo; In the group stage, Amsterdam had drawn twice against FC Bayern. And that was the big question before this semifinals: Whether Ajax, who could inspire so much against opponents with aged heroes, can maintain his style against a team that does not pull their conviction out of its own greatness, but also from an internalized game idea ,

Ajax just played as usual

It took only a few minutes, then it was hard to miss: it was no problem for Ajax. They just played the way they always play, fast, direct, witty, yet so calm, so deliberate, so mature.

Ajax dominated from the first minute, the team fitted and fitted and passed, and with each pass, the goal came even closer. Tottenham, without the attackers Harry Kane (injured) and Son Heung-min (suspended) had to play, did not lag behind with the look, the host retreated far in front of his own goal. If the Spurs once had the ball, Ajax nevertheless stayed ahead, immediately attacked the opponent, and then the ball was quickly back in its own ranks. After 20 minutes, Ajax had played 133 passes, Tottenham 40. One of these 133 passes had already taken the lead.

In the 15th minute Ajax moved the game, the ball came to Hakim Ziyech, who immediately passed on to Donny van de Beek. Already this was alone Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, he delayed, he delayed again, Lloris went to his knees, then pushed van de Beek the ball into the goal. They were simple sequences. But together they gave the beauty that makes this season the Ajax game.

Even after this leadership fit and fit and adapted Amsterdam. One of these pass sequences ended again with van de Beek, who stood at an acute angle in front of the goal. Lloris speculated again on a cross, but van de Beek shot on goal. Lloris deflected the ball with his leg (24.).

Tottenham had the first chance 26 minutes into the game, Fernando Llorente heading the ball over for a free-kick. Five minutes later Ajax goalie André Onana rushed out to fist, he crashed with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld together. Vertonghen had to be treated for minutes, he tried again to play. Then he saw for himself that it was no longer possible. He was replaced by Moussa Sissoko in the 38th minute.

It seemed as if the crash had roused Tottenham. Most notably, Vertonghen's injury resulted in a tactical change, with the Spurs now playing with a back four in defense and a midfield diamond, and in that formation, the hosts were better able to free themselves from their own half. In the 40th minute, Tottenham's best action to date came after Onana's cross from Lucas Moura. In injury time of the first half Alderweireld put a header on the goal net, again for a free kick. Shortly after, Sissoko missed the goal with a shot from distance.

Also in the second half there was a team that dominated, but now it was the host. The Spurs proved that they, too, know how to do something with the ball, albeit in a different way. Tottenham played more determined and with fewer stations to the front, to more robust, now it was briefly the guests who seemed overwhelmed, to driving, once they had the ball, he was usually quickly lost again. So Tottenham also came more often to the opposing penalty area, but then not much happened, then showed Ajax that the team can also defend well. Dele Alli had two good opportunities (50th, 56th), they were left unused.

After just under an hour, Ajax slowly broke away from the pressure, the guests had the ball, they were not quite as stormy forward, they took more time now. That was enough to lessen the intensity of the game, which threatened to endanger Ajax. David Neres nearly increased the lead to 2: 0 – he hit the post (78 '). For Tottenham Alderweireld had the best opportunity, again with a header, again for a free kick, again landed the ball on the goal net (82).

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. (tagsToTranslate) Champions League (t) Ajax Amsterdam (t) Football (t) Tottenham Hotspur (t) Sports (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) SZ

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