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    Donny van de Beek of Ajax fires home the winning goal against Tottenham on 30 April 2019

    Ajax On Verge of Champions' League Final But Against Barcelona or Liverpool?

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    On Wednesday night Liverpool travel to Barcelona for the first leg of their Champions' League semi-final against the Catalan club, knowing the world's greatest player - Lionel Messi - stands in their way.

    Ajax Amsterdam — who have not won a Champions' League since 1995 — are on the verge of reaching the final after beating Tottenham 1-0 in their semi final first leg in London on Tuesday, 30 April.

    "Thanks to a first half-hour of magic Ajax is now close to the Valhalla of club football: the Champions League final on June 1 in Madrid…The final beckons, but the matter is far from being settled," wrote Dutch sports journalist Willem Vissers in De Volkskrant newspaper.

    Tottenham now have to travel to Amsterdam on May 8 to play the second leg and their chances of overturning the 1-0 score on aggregate will be hard hit if striker Harry Kane is not back from injury. Spurs will at least have South Korean forward Son Heung-min, who was suspended for the first leg.  

    ​Ajax, who are now coached by former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, last won the Champions' League in 1995, when they beat Milan with a Patrick Kluivert goal, and the following year they lost on penalties to Juventus in the final.

    ​There were some clashes between Ajax and Spurs fans in London on Tuesday night and six Liverpool supporters have been arrested in Barcelona over an assault on two hotel workers.

    The club's chief executive, Peter Moore, has appealed on Liverpool fans to "treat this beautiful city with the respect it deserves."

    ​Spanish clubs have dominated the Champions' League in recent years with Real Madrid winning it four times and Barcelona once — in 2015 — and the home side at the Nou Camp will be strong favourites to beat Liverpool, who are also chasing their first English Premier League title.

    Lionel Messi, who has been rested for Barcelona's last two league games, has promised to "bring that beautiful cup back to Camp Nou". 

    "It's not only about Messi but of course it's about him as well," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said, confusingly, at a press conference on Tuesday. 

    FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts after scoring during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, March 4, 2018
    © AP Photo / Manu Fernandez
    FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts after scoring during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, March 4, 2018

    "Can we concentrate on Messi? We should in a lot of moments but if we only concentrate on him there are 10 other world-class players who can decide the game as well," Klopp said.

    Barcelona will have two former Liverpool stars in their line-up — Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez and Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who were sold for a collective £170 million.

    "We miss Phil Coutinho a lot because he is a world-class player and I loved working with him. When I first heard he wanted to go to Barcelona I couldn't imagine it would be good. But we had to deal without him and we did well," Klopp said.

    ​Liverpool spent most of the money they got for Coutinho on defender Virgil van Dijk, who was named Premier League Player of the Season at the weekend. Together with goalkeeper, Alisson,  he has managed to reduce the number of goals Liverpool conceded, making them harder to beat.

    Liverpool hope to have striker Roberto Firmino back from injury for the game.

    "If he is 100 per cent ready to play he will maybe play," Klopp said. 



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    semi-finals, football, Champions League, Liverpool FC, FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, Lionel Messi, Amsterdam, Barcelona, London
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