Between them, UEFA.com’s reporters have watched every second of the UEFA Champions League semi-finalists’ campaigns – so who better to ask exactly where these ties might be won and lost? We even squeezed a prediction out of each of them.
Our reporters will be providing extensive build-up to both ties from London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Liverpool throughout the week.
Daniel Thacker, Spurs: Harry Kane is injured, Heung-Min Son is suspended for the first leg and doubts surround the involvement of Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko, key performers in midfield, an area where Ajax are replete with talent.
Yet Tottenham, back on this stage for the first time in 57 years, have overcome the odds more than once this campaign and, like Ajax, have thrived in the knockout stage playing at home first. If Spurs eke out a slender advantage in their new stadium, expect the London club to complete the job in Amsterdam.
Prediction: Tottenham 3-2agg Ajax
Derek Brookman, Ajax: Ajax are unquestionably committed to attacking football, with full-backs who love to push up; this could leave space for Spurs’ attacking players to exploit. The four-time European champions therefore have to strike a balance between getting men forward and plugging the gaps they leave.
It will also be interesting to see if Frenkie de Jong can be stifled. Juventus tried and ultimately failed in the quarter-finals, and consequently the Barcelona-bound playmaker ended up running the show in both matches. Matthijs de Ligt’s heading prowess at corners will be another area of concern for the home side.
Prediction: I’m going for a 4-3 aggregate victory to Erik ten Hag’s men, set in motion by yet another famous 2-1 away win.
Graham Hunter, Barcelona: Liverpool’s high-tempo pressing, and brutally fast transition from ball-winning to goalscoring, will unsettle Barcelona, who don’t enjoy being constantly hustled and made to chase back. The Reds’ set plays will also be a danger; Barça do not like the ball being pitched between their goal line and the penalty spot.
However, even if Liverpool seem like Kryptonite to Barcelona’s Supermen, I can’t shake the feeling that the Blaugrana are too characterful, and Lionel Messi is too obsessed with wining this trophy, for them not to progress somehow.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-2agg Liverpool (Barcelona to win on away goals)
Matthew Howarth, Liverpool: Lionel Messi and Barcelona outclassed Manchester United in the quarter-finals, but a more ruthless side than the Red Devils could easily have raced into an early two-goal lead in the second leg at Camp Nou.
Liverpool, if presented with the same cast-iron opportunities, will not be as forgiving. As evidenced in their recent wins in Munich and Porto, Jürgen Klopp’s team have all the tools to exploit Barça’s vulnerability on the counter and put themselves in a strong position ahead of the return leg at Anfield on 7 May.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-4agg Liverpool