Before Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax, the Dutch FA made headlines by postponing that weekend’s Eredivisie matches.
In an ideal world, all clubs would enjoy a break before playing a continental clash, and Ajax were arguably the fresher of the two sides last week.
Unfortunately for Tottenham, no such opportunity to help them exists, and Spurs again toiled in the league this weekend – albeit in a lunchtime kick-off.
A disastrous 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth did little to aid their preparations for the second leg, and Mauricio Pochettino’s men must quickly banish the memories of their South Coast meltdown to succeed against Ajax.
Against the Cherries, Spurs lost their cool on several occasions. First, dynamic attacker Heung-Min Son was sent off when he overreacted to a late challenge by Jefferson Lerma and uncharacteristically hit out at the Bournemouth man in retaliation.
Next, substitute Juan Foyth lunged into a studs-up challenge moments after coming on, earning another red card and reducing Tottenham to nine men.
Nathan Ake’s late winner meant Spurs suffered a loss that put their top four hopes in jeopardy. Tottenham must now mentally reset before the biggest match of their season tonight.
Keeping a clean sheet is of paramount importance, but it is a mammoth task against a free-flowing Ajax side. Tottenham have not stopped anyone from scoring in their last three matches, and even then it was against lowly Brighton.
Spurs need to conjure up their best performance of the year if they want to play in the Champions League final. To do so, the squad needs to quickly move on from the self-destruction they exhibited against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Tonight, Tottenham must do what they failed to do at the Vitality Stadium: keep their heads, remain calm under pressure and produce a disciplined performance.