Ajax travel to Glasgow on Tuesday to face Scottish Premier League Champions Celtic in a must win Champions League group tie.

  • By Michael Bell
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ajax v celtWith a defeat to Barcelona, and a draw with AC Milan, Ajax need back to back victories over Celtic to have any realistic chance of qualifying for the knock out round.

Celtic themselves also need the win, after two defeats so far have left them rooted to the bottom of Group H, and a packed out Parkhead will prove an intimidating atmosphere for Frank de Boer’s side.

At home, Celtic have only lost two of their last 22 matches in the Champions League group stage, with both defeats coming at the hands of Spanish giants and Group H rivals Barcelona.

Ajax go into the game not having won an away game all season, with Saturdays 1-1 draw with FC Twente making it five games on the road without a victory in the Eredivisie.

Defender Niklas Moisander, who missed the tie with Twente, will come back into the squad after injury, but midfielder Lerin Duarte misses out.

Celtic have been dealt a major blow with influential star Kris Commons picking up an injury against Hibs at the weekend in a 1-1 draw, and he is a major doubt for the game. Also missing are suspended captain Scott Brown, and ex-Ajax man Derk Boerrigter, who misses out on a reunion with his former club.

Dutchman Virgil van Dijk will start at the back for the SPL leaders, with the ex-Groningen man having a terrific season so far, and will be eager to impress with national coach Louis van Gaal set to be in attendance.

Coach Neil Lennon is confident of a win despite injury concerns, “I think we can beat Ajax at home but I don’t know what personnel I’ll have. We go into the game on Tuesday confident.”

Both sides last met in the Champions League during the 2001/02 campaign, as Ajax triumphed 1-0 at Celtic Park thanks to a Wamberto goal, but this was after the Scottish side hammered the Eredivisie side 3-1 in the Amsterdam Arena.

More recently the two clubs played a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena in 2012, with Ajax coming out on top 4-0 thanks to Siem de Jong, Thulani Serero, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, and Daley Blind

Possible line-ups:

Celtic- Forster, Izaguirre, Lustig, Van Dijk, Ambrose, Kayal, Ledley, Mulgrew, Samaras, Forrest, Stokes

Ajax- Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Blind, Denswil, Veltman, Poulsen, Serero, De Jong, Fischer, Andersen, Sigthorsson

Concentration will be key for Ajax on Tuesday, as they will come under immense pressure from the passionate home crowd, and how they deal with this defensively will determine the outcome. Ajax showed in glimpses at the Nou Camp that they could be dangerous with a number of shot target, but they will need to take those chances against Celtic.

A number of key men will be missing from the hosts, but they still have quality in their side, and will be determined to get the win going into the return in Amsterdam two weeks on Wednesday.

Its been a torrid season so far for Dutch clubs in Europe, but hopefully Ajax can get their campaign back on track in Glasgow.




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