Pochettino urges Tottenham players to emulate Messi against Ajax

Mauricio Pochettino has found praise for Lionel Messi inevitable even as he looks for ways to ensure Tottenham outclass Ajax in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Ajax.

With Donny van de Beek’s first-half goal having earned the Dutch side a 1-0 advantage in the opening encounter in London, Tottenham are hoping the return of Son Heung-min from suspension, among others, will be enough to help them qualify for the Champions League final at the Dutch team’s expense.

With Messi offering a masterclass on how to dominate a knockout against Liverpool in the match at Nou Camp, his countryman wants his players to see such as inspiration.

“What can I say about Messi more than I have or others have said? He’s one of the gods of football,” Pochettino said.

“It’s unbelievable, the desire and the capacity to fight with the ball at his feet and without the ball at his feet.

“Of course, if we play like him, for sure we are going to have a chance. But not like him doing what he does with the ball, but like him without the ball.

“If we play like him without the ball, show the desire that he had yesterday, for sure we are going to have the chances to qualify for the final. If not, no chance.

“That is a key point and it is so painful, in the other semi-final when you see Messi’s desire and motivation and say, ‘Why weren’t we motivated in the same way?’”

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