- Barca still favorites but only just
- Ajax and Spurs in dreamland
- Value with the Dutch team
At the end of an enthralling week of UEFA Champions soccer, we are left with a final four of Ajax, Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham – not a quartet the bookies expected to see in the semis.
No Manchester City, no Real Madrid, no PSG and no Bayern Munich.
Though Spanish giants Barcelona and Lionel Messi still remain in the mix and with average Champions League odds of +150 they enter the semis as betting favorites.
UEFA Champions League 2019 Winners – Odds
*Odds taken April 19, 2019
The semi-final schedule looks like this:
Semifinal first-leg fixtures
Tuesday, April 30, 3:00 pm EST: Tottenham vs Ajax
Wednesday, May 1, 3:00 pm EST: Barcelona vs Liverpool
Semifinal second-leg fixtures
Tuesday, May 7, 3:00 pm EST: Liverpool vs Barcelona
Wednesday, May 8, 3:00 pm EST: Ajax vs Tottenham
Barcelona have been among the favorites to win it since last August and nothing has happened since to change the bookies’ minds. Their demolition of Manchester United in the quarterfinal only served to reinforce this view.
— Ti mrwawa (@ChristopheCurp1) April 16, 2019
Liverpool too, after getting to last season’s final have also figured highly in the betting all season.
Tottenham and Ajax meanwhile have barely been on the radar, but as they have been drawn to play each other in the semi, one will make it to this year’s final, and it will be a massive achievement.
New Kids on the Block
Of the four, only Barcelona are considered ‘giants’ of European soccer and while Liverpool made last season’s final, this is a club that is still fighting to get back to the summit of the European game.
Ajax were at their peak in the 1970s but have long since failed to deliver on the European stage. While Tottenham have never been this far into the continent’s elite club competition.
Full Time in the Champions League:
??Barcelona 3-0 Man Utd?? (4-0 agg)#FCBarcelona are through to the semi-finals витх ease!
— Tempobet (@Tempobet) April 16, 2019
Yet it would be mad to discount the chances of Ajax or Tottenham as both have proven throughout this year’s tournament that they have the tools to compete with the best.
Ajax, en route to the semifinal, have won away at both Real Madrid and Juventus – two titans of European soccer – and have done so by playing an entertaining, fearless brand of football.
Fearless and Talented
The Dutch are a young side, many of whom are products of the club’s famed academy, which adds to the aforementioned fearlessness. Their brand of soccer has been a breath of fresh air and has been achieved without spending millions of pounds on buying the best players a la Man City and PSG.
— MiMGhana.com (@MiMGhana) April 19, 2019
Tottenham too, who have a brand new stadium to finance, have spent very little money on new players over the last couple of seasons.
It is a side that has been carefully nurtured and moulded by their talented young manager, Mauricio Pochettino. They too play an exciting, fast-paced brand of football.
Artistry vs Heavy Metal
Barcelona’s semi against Liverpool throws together the two fancied teams and it’s one that will be a contrast of styles.
Barcelona’s intricate, Messi-inspired tiki-taka football versus Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and their high-tempo brand of ‘heavy metal’ soccer – and it’s a tricky one to call.
Salah has doubled Liverpool’s lead in Porto.
They now lead 4-0 over the two legs. pic.twitter.com/HdWzKdJmyz
— 32Red (@32Red) April 17, 2019
Logic says the winner of this one will go on to win the competition, but there’s a freshness and verve about both Ajax and Tottenham that says the winner of that semi could go on and spring a major surprise.
Prepare For a Shock
We happen to think the value is very much with the Dutch side, and while their semi with Tottenham will be close we can see the fact they are at home for the second leg as significant.
We also happen to think that any side that can go to Turin and Madrid and win will be unphased by playing either Barca or Liverpool in the final.
Our pick: Ajax