I’m starting to feel that we are destined to never play well or win any semi final we play in now. We hosted an Ajax side that had been the giant killers so far this competition, and we were about to find out why.
The starting XI was probably as good as it could with the players available, Sissoko was on the bench, deemed not fit enough to start. We opted for a back 3 formation, with wing-backs. And all the available starting attackers we had, did start the game. So we were obviously aiming to score a goal, which we didn’t. And then keep a clean sheet, which we didn’t…….
Now I’m not going to lie to you, I am very frustrated and gutted by this performance and I chose not to write it yesterday or else I may have let it get the better of me. I have calmed down following the loss, but am not hopeful going into the second leg, and I’ll tell you for why after I cover the game…
We started.. awfully.. to put it frankly. We were absolutely abysmal, second to every ball, and looked so nervous and slow to every single ball. We gave them so much respect, which they deserve, but there is such a thing as too much. We just let them play their game and when Ajax get going their passing play is fantastic. I was sitting there so angry at they way we started and also in awe at how they passed the ball around, literally running circles around us. It was hard to watch, and beyond annoying. They got their well deserved goal 15 minutes in after Van De Beek was put through and slotted past Lloris easily. But not even this woke us up. We continued to be dominated and it wasn’t until we changed the system, arguably because of what happened to Jan, that we started to get back into the game. We trailed at half time and needed to improve drastically second half.
Into that second 45, and well, we did. We definitely improved and looked a lot better throughout the squad, merely lacking in the final third with our two best goalscorers out. Sissoko came on and made a world of difference in midfield, and we defended better. Although it was also partly them playing on the counter more, almost getting a second at one point, with Neres hitting the post late on. But no, despite our best efforts, we we beaten. An away goal conceded and down in the tie, and for me it’s not looking good.
We now have to go to Ajax and win to go through, and if we play anywhere like we did in the first half we aren’t going to. Personally I don’t think we will anyway. I’ve been seeing a lot of fans saying we are still in it, and whilst I can agree somewhat, for me it’s a lot of false hope thinking we can make it now. We are a goal down, and couldn’t score at home to Ajax who credit to them defended really well. So what makes us think we can score two away from home? We are putting too much emphasis on Son coming back, and I just don’t see us doing it. But stranger things have happened, and if we play better and they have an off day then who knows. I personally just don’t see us doing it sadly, and if we don’t you can only look back at the way we came out for the opening half, and then it’s sadly another semi final and another chance wasted.
But it’s onto the second leg, and I guess what happens happens. I’m not holding out much hope, but with Sissoko hopefully back fit, and Son back in the side, it’s doable. Just very very tough. We will see.
As always thanks for reading.