Ajax’s Champions League group stage campaign begins on Tuesday with a clash against French side Lille. Kick-off in Amsterdam is 8pm.

After reaching the semi-finals in last season’s competition, Ajax are once again in the group stages of the Champions League after coming through qualifiers with PAOK and APOEL Nicosia.

Standing between Erik ten Hag’s side and the knockout stages are Chelsea, Valencia and Tuesday’s opponent’s Lille, who finished second in Ligue 1 last season.

Ajax have had a good start to their season and currently sit top of the Eredivisie after a 4-1 victory over Heerenveen at the weekend.

Lille, who enter the Champions League for the first time since the 2012-13 season, currently sit fifth in Ligue 1 after three wins and two defeats in their opening five games.

Speaking at his pre-game press conference, Ten Hag stated he is expecting a tough game from Lille and doesn’t see Ajax as outright favourites, “We know everything we need to know about Lille. It is an international team with Portuguese and African influences and of course French football

“This is a team that beat Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 and was second in France. The French competition is very strong. We are not necessarily the favourite, but we are very convinced of ourselves. ”

Team News

Ajax will be without the injured duo Noussair Mazraoui and Donny van de Beek for the match. However, David Neres could come back into the line-up after being rested at the weekend.

Ten Hag has options for his line-up with Joel Veltman or Sergino Dest to start at right-back. If Veltman is chosen, Perr Schuurs is likely to start in the centre of defence. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar started at the weekend but Ten Hag could revert back to Dusan Tadic through the middle.

Possible Ajax line-up: Onana, Veltman, Tagliafico, Schuurs, Blind, Alvarez, Martinez, Ziyech, Neres, Promes, Tadic

Lille lost key forward Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal this summer but young Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen has made a flying start to the season with five goals in five games. The 20-year-old is likely to start despite Loic Remy returning to fitness.

Jonathan Ikone is also one to watch with the winger scoring on his debut for France during the international break.

Possible Lille line-up: Maignan; Pied, Fonte, Djalo, Bradaric; Andre, Soumare; Ikone, Yazici, Bamba; Osimhen

Odds

Ajax 1/2 Draw 10/3 Lille 21/4

Will Ajax get off to a winning start?

Ajax are full of confidence at the moment and will be hoping to get out of this group. To do so, wins at home are a must and that must start with Lille on Tuesday.

The French side are dangerous but they are not as strong as they were last season. They will not just sit back in Amsterdam and that should make for a good match.

With Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic in good form at the moment, Ajax will definitely score but they must keep it tight at the back, something which has been a little difficult for Ten Hag’s side so far this season.




admin (7269 Posts)

Follow @Footballoranje_ on Twitter