Ajax will look to continue their good form in Europe this season as they travel to Poland for the first leg of their last 32 tie with Legia Warsaw.
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The Amsterdam side breezed through their group which contained Celta Vigo, Panathinaikos and Standard Liege, winning four of their games and drawing twice. Their reward for finishing top was a reunion with Legia Warsaw, who Ajax beat at this stage of the same competition in 2015.
However, the Polish side are a different opposition than the one defeated two years ago and they have dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in a Champions League group which contained Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Sporting Lisbon. They made headlines after the 8-4 defeat to Dortmund, but Legia also held Real Madrid to a 3-3 draw at home and beat Sporting 1-0.
Ajax are currently unbeaten in their last six games but Peter Bosz’s side’s schedule is about to get hectic with four games in the space of eleven days. However, despite Ajax trailing Feyenoord by five points in the league, Bosz isn’t going to rest players for the Europa League.
He told the Ajax website, “We will not play with a completely different team. We think the Europa League is very important. It’s good for Ajax, good for the image and good for Dutch football. So we do not play with eleven other players.
“Ajax have to play at the top twice a week. Of course, Feyenoord can fully focus on the championship, but it is up to us.”
Bosz has a fully fit squad to pick from for the first leg with no suspensions or injury concerns. 17-year-old Justin Kluivert could make his European debut for the club after impressing in the league. Bosz has rotated during the Europa League but he is likely to name mostly the same side that beat Sparta at the weekend.
Possible Ajax line-up: Onana, Veltman, Sinkgraven, Viergever, Sanchez, Schone, Klaassen, Ziyech, Traore, Younes, Dolberg
Legia Warsaw just returned from their winter break at the weekend with new signing Tomas Necid, who is well known to Eredivisie fans because of his time at PEC Zwolle, making his debut. Former Vitesse star Valeri Qazaishvili is also set to feature.
The young Dane has been a revelation for the Amsterdam club this season but has been criticised recently by some sections of the press after some disappointing performances. However, Dolberg remains the undoubted number one striker in Amsterdam and will be unleashed against Legia Warsaw. Given any chances in the box, Dolberg should add to the two goals he has already netted in the competition.
The experienced midfielder is the star of Legia Warsaw’s side and is their top scorer with seven goals and eight assists so far in the league. The Serbian also scored twice in the Champions League. He could punish Ajax if given any space around the box.