Ajax host Barcelona on Wednesday night looking to find their first Champions League victory of the season, but they will have to defend against Luis Suarez who returns to the Amsterdam Arena for the first time since leaving the club in 2011.

ajaneybarThe Eredivisie champions have drawn two and lost one of their opening three group matches, and with a tough trip to Paris still to come, Frank de Boer’s side need to beat Barcelona if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the next round.

Ajax put in a battling performance two weeks ago in Barcelona but eventually fell to a 3-1 loss in the Nou camp. However they only need to look back to last season find inspiration ahead of the match, with the Amsterdammers beating the Catalan side 2-1 at the same stage of the competition, thanks to goals from Thulani Serero and Danny Hoesen.

Since the defeat two weeks ago, Ajax have been in good domestic form, beating Go Ahead Eagles 3-1, and Dordrecht 4-0, while opponents Barcelona have had a rotten time, losing to both Real Madrid and Celta Vigo in La Liga.

De Boer has been boosted ahead of the match with Nicolai Boilesen fit to play despite coming off ill against Dordrecht on Saturday, while Thulani Serero is also fully fit.

Likely Ajax line-up: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Boilesen, Moisander, Veltman, Serero, Klaassen, Andersen, Schone, El Ghazi, Sigthorsson

Barcelona will be without defender Jeremy Mathieu through injury, but welcome back Gerard Pique to their squad.

All eyes in the Amsterdam Arena will be on Luis Suarez, with the striker returning to the club he spent four years at between 2007 and 2011. The Uruguayan made 110 appearances for Ajax, and scored an incredible 81 goals before leaving to join Liverpool for €26.5 million. Suarez only made his Barcelona debut two weeks ago after completing a ban for biting Georgio Chiellini during the World Cup, and in three appearances the forward is still searching for his first goal for his new club.

Possible Barcelona line-up: Bravo, Dani Alves, Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Busquets, Rakitic, Rafinha, Suarez, Neymar, Messi

Key Match Ups:

Suarez v Moisander: The Ajax defence will not only have to deal with Neymar and Lionel Messi, but also the return of Luis Suarez. Niklas Moisander will have to be on the top of his game alongside defensive partner Joel Veltman to stop the Uruguayan, who will be determined to score his first Barcelona goal after some negative comments in the Spanish press since he has returned from his ban.

Klaassen v Busquets: Ajax’s number 10 has been in great in the Eredivisie this season, but has yet to make a name for himself on the Champions League stage. Two weeks ago Klaassen was played out of the game by the Barcelona midfielder, but on Wednesday he will need to get the better of Sergio Busquets if Ajax are to get anything out of the game.

El Ghazi v Jordi Alba: El Ghazi provided much needed pace to the Ajax side in Barcelona two weeks ago, and scored in the 3-1 defeat. On Wednesday the youngster will come up against Jordi Alba, and this battle will be crucial to the outcome of the match. If El Ghazi can get crosses into the box for Sigthorsson then Ajax definitely have a chance.

With two defeats in their last two games, Ajax couldn’t have picked a better time to face Barcelona, but their defence will need to be rock solid against possibly the best front three in Europe. Ajax proved last season that they can beat Barcelona, but is it written in the stars for Luis Suarez to come back and haunt his former club?

The match will be unmissable, and make sure you keep following Football-Oranje.com for all the pre-match and post match reaction.




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