Pochettino says his Spurs side are "living a dream" but can they make it to Madrid?

Historic encounter

Tuesday night sees one of the biggest nights in Tottenham Hotspur's history, with them just two games away from the UEFA Champions League final. They welcome surprise package Ajax to North London with the winners over the course of the two legs heading to Madrid on 1st June.

Mauricio Pochettino has done an absolutely incredible job since taking the reigns back in 2014 and it's highlighted by this achievement - with Spurs making the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1962. They were beaten in the semi-finals of the European Cup by eventual winners Benfica and their supporters will be hoping for better fortunes this time around.

For years now Spurs have threatened to challenge but they've often been referred to as 'bottlers', however Pochettino knows more than anyone that they won't get a better opportunity to go all the way and win a European title. This is a young Spurs side but they have plenty of experience and hunger from their exploits in the Premier League League over the last few seasons.

Facing Ajax won't be easy, but when you see the other semi-final containing European giants in Liverpool and Barcelona, they'll know that they've been very lucky with the draw. Their quarter-final victory over Manchester City proved that they can mix it with the best sides in the world and what made it more impressive is that they were without talisman and top scorer Harry Kane.

Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs stunned CL favourites Manchester City in the quarter-finals, with Fernando Llorente's goal ensuring they progressed through to the last four on the away goals rule

The England skipper is going to absent again on Tuesday night and Pochettino's men have proven that they can cope without one of the worlds best strikers, but this time things will be slightly more difficult. Versatile forward Son Heung-Min has been the man to deputise for the 25 year-old and he'll be unavailable through suspension on Tuesday, which is a massive loss. Lucas Moura is likely to step in for the South Korean and it's a huge opportunity for him to really nail down a place in the first team after being in and out the XI throughout the campaign.

But it promises to be an absolutely magnificent occasion at their fabulous new stadium. 62,000 fans will be crammed into the 'Tottenham Hotspur Stadium' and this is exactly the kind of night that Daniel Levy had in mind when he first proposed their new home.

White Hart Lane was a special place for Tottenham fans, full of history & fantastic memories and Tuesday gives them an unbelievable opportunity to etch more of the same into their new surroundings on the grounds of their great old home.

Pochettino continues to work wonders on a budget

It's been a remarkable year in the Champions League and at the start of the season not many would've expected Tottenham Hotspur to feature in the final four. They scraped their way through a tough group containing Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven on match day six.

Spurs failed to win any of their opening 3 games, but 2 wins followed by a late draw in Barcelona ensured they qualified for the knockout rounds, where they've impressive dispatched of Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.

They've improved and grown in stature as the competition has progressed and it's a real testament to the coaching ability of Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom team, who've really worked wonders with what they've got. They have a talented squad on their hands but the Argentine isn't afraid to admit that he hasn't received the financial support he'd like in the transfer market.

The signing of Lucas Moura back in the 2018 winter transfer window remains Tottenham's last piece of business and despite clubs in England and around Europe strengthening and spending huge sums - Spurs are still competing. For years now we've seen the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen grab all the headlines but the superb work on the training ground has seen some new heroes come to the forefront.

Lucas Moura
With Son and Kane absent on Tuesday night, the onus is on Lucas Moura to lead the line

The development of Son Heung-Min is perhaps the most eye-catching of all, with the South Korean an absolute revelation in North London. He arrived from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015 with bags of potential and now four years on he's established himself as one of the Premier League's most devastating frontmen, taking up the goalscoring burden in the absence of Kane.

Alongside him we've seen Moussa Sissoko, a man mocked by many after Spurs shelled out £30m to sign him from relegated Newcastle United, grow in stature. His appearance on the teamsheet was often greeted with moans and groans but now he's one of the first names on it. Pochettino has given him a role in the team that allows him to showcase what he's good at - using his physicality and power to drive from midfield with those trademark gut-busting runs.

The work that goes on behind the scenes with the players is second to none and to reach the semi-finals is remarkable, but Pochettino will want more and he'll be desperate to make it to Madrid, as he told the media in the pre-Ajax press conference.

"You need to set your dreams to infinity and beyond. When you achieve things it's because you dream them. To be in the Champions League semi-final with Tottenham was a dream five years ago - but we're living the dream."

Tantalising Reunion one of many stories

This is a semi-final for the romantics in football, a first ever in the Champions League era for Tottenham where they face a young, vibrant and exciting Ajax side. Most the pre-match talk has been around the Eredivise outfit and rightly so after dispatching of Juventus and holders Real Madrid on their way to this stage, but this encounter brings up some interesting re-unions.

On the books of Spurs they feature no fewer than four former Ajax favourites - all of which are expected to feature on Tuesday night. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and Christian Eriksen all used to play their football in Amsterdam and they'll be relishing the challenge of taking on their former employers in such a massive game.

They've all been massive success stories since moving to North London and they'll all need to be on top form if they're to help Spurs navigate their way through to the Wanda Metropolitano on 1st June.

Ajax
Ajax's young side have been arguably the story of the tournament in the Champions League this season

We'll also get to see this magnificent Ajax side first hand again. The Eredivise leaders have been an absolute revelation in this years Champions League, inspired by their magnificent crop of young players. The likes of Donny van de Beek, David Neres, Frenkie De Jong and skipper Matthijs de Ligt have played a starring role in their run to the semi's and it's highly likely that this season will be the last time we see them all together. De Jong has already sealed a transfer to Barcelona, whilst the others are also expected to go out the exit door at the Johan Cruyff ArenA.

Tuesday night promises to be an enthralling occasion and despite Tottenham missing Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Harry Winks, they won't ever get a better opportunity to make the final of the Champions League.

Everything is in place for a classic at Tottenham's new home and it's absolutely imperative that they pick up a positive result to take to Amsterdam with them in 8 days time. One of Barcelona or Liverpool await for the victors of this tie over in Madrid and we can't wait to see how it plays out.. pass us the popcorn.


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