Champions League Ajax vs Tottenham: Ajax out to exorcise ghost of 1997 semifinal

Ajax will hope to make amends for its 1997 semifinal defeat to Juventus when it takes on Tottenham in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Ajax had lost to Juventus  4-1 in the second-leg with current Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane's 81st minute strike making it a thumping 6-2 aggregate win for Juve. Ajax had lost the first-leg 2-1.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The average age of Ajax's starting eleven in the Champions League this season has been 24 years and 257 days, with its line-up against Tottenham in the first-leg the youngest of any Champions League semifinalist in the last six years. 

While some of this team were not even born when Ajax last played a Champions League semifinal, Daley Blind, Dusan Tadic and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are likely to be among the few players with memories of Louis van Gaal’s 1997 Ajax side's heartbreak in Turin.

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Ajax had lost to Juventus  4-1 in the second-leg with current Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane's 81st minute strike making it a thumping 6-2 aggregate win for Juve. Ajax had lost the first-leg 2-1.

Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot scored his first Ajax — also the team's lone strike that night — goal against a side comprising the likes of Alessandro Del Piero.

Ajax had got off to the worst possible start when Nicola Amoruso, replacing the injured Del Piero in the playing XI, drew first blood for Juventus.

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Christian Vieri doubled Juventus’ lead four minutes before half-time, leaving Ajax to play catch-up. Attilio Lombardo and Christian Vieri later slotted home to put the match beyond Ajax's reach, ending its hopes of a second Champions League final appearance in three years.

While the defeat may seem like a thing of the past for the youthful outfit, it will draw inspiration from the spirited run in the hopes of making it to the Champions League final when it takes on Tottenham in the second leg at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

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