Ajax welcome Italian giants AC Milan to the Amsterdam Arena in their second Champions League group match.

  • By Michael Bell
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de jong injThe match is a must not lose game for the Eredivisie champions after they were defeated 4-0 in their opening Champions League tie against Barcelona. If Ajax are to have much chance of qualifying to the second round, a defeat is out of the question for Frank de Boer’s men.

AC Milan saw off Celtic 2-0 in their opening game, and a win against Ajax would put them in a commanding position in the group ahead of a double header against Barcelona.

Ajax have been in indifferent form so far in the Eredivisie, but they returned to goal-scoring form at the weekend in a 6-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles, while AC Milan also tasted victory beating Sampdoria 1-0.

A hamstring injury has ruled Ajax forward Bojan out of the match, meaning he will miss the chance to face the side he spent a part of last season on loan at.

AC Milan will be without winger Stephen El Shaarawy, Kaka, Matias Silvestre, and Giampaolo Pazzini, although Urby Emmanuelson, and Nigel de Jong are set for returns to the Amsterdam Arena.

The two European giants have met twice in Champions League finals, with the Italians triumphing 4-1 in 1969, while Patrick Kluivert scored the only goal for Ajax in 1995 to seal a 1-0 victory.

AC Milan have already encountered Dutch opposition in the Champions league this season, after they knocked PSV Eindhoven out of the competition in the play-off round. However Ajax will take heart from the fact that the Italians were outplayed in Eindhoven, and were lucky to escape with a draw.

Likely line ups:

Ajax- Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Blind, Denswil, Moisander; Poulsen, Schone, De Jong, Fischer, Duarte, Sigthorsson

Milan- Abbiati, Abate, Constant, Mexes, Zapata, De Jong, Poli, Montelivo, Birsa, Robinho, Balotelli

Key match-ups:

Balotelli v Moisander:

Mario Balotelli is AC Milan’s star man, and it will be up to Niklas Moisander to try and keep the striker quiet. This will be easier said than done, with the Italian capable of scoring from anywhere, and hugely unpredictable.

De Jong v De Jong:

Who will win the battle of the De Jong’s as ex-Ajax man, and tough tackler Nigel de Jong comes up against Siem de Jong, the Amsterdam clubs captain, and main source of creativity

Fischer v Abate:

Danish winger Fischer has been out of form all season, but showed glimpses of his brilliance against Go Ahead Eagles on Saturday. If Ajax are to win, they will need Fischer to get the upper hand on Milan right back Abate.

Conclusion:

The battle of European giants from years gone by, with both sides a shadow of their former glorious past. A defeat for Ajax will almost certainly see them knocked out of the competition. Ahead of their double header with Scottish side Celtic, Ajax need a good result!

 




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