The Europa League group stages start on Thursday with Ajax hosting Scottish Champions Celtic at the Amsterdam Arena.

aja celtAjax were hoping to be in the Champions League this season, but after the shock defeat to Rapid Vienna in the qualifiers they have had to settle for Europa League. The draw for the group’s couldn’t have been much tougher for Frank de Boer’s side, who will not only face Scottish Champions Celtic, but also Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Norwegian side Molde. First up for Ajax will be Celtic, who were also knocked out of the Champions League in the play-off round by Swedish side Malmo.

Coach Frank de Boer told his press conference on the game, “I’m looking forward to playing in the ArenA against Celtic. There will be a great atmosphere there. It will be a great experience, both for me personally and my players. Celtic can make it tricky for anyone but I am confident that we can win, but it is difficult.

Ajax go into the game unbeaten in the Eredivisie this season and they currently sit top of the league after four wins and one draw. Celtic however suffered their first domestic defeat of the season at the weekend, in a 2-1 loss at league leaders Aberdeen.

Team News

The good news for Ajax ahead of the game is that left back Mitchell Dijks has recovered from a groin injury and can line up against Celtic. However John Heitinga and Yaya Sonogo miss out through light injuries, while Riechedly Bazoer is suspended.

Possible Ajax line-up: Cillessen, Tete, Dijks, Riedewald, Veltman, Serero, Gudelj, Klaassen, Sinkgraven, El Ghazi, Milik

Charlie Mulgrew is out for Celtic, but Emilio Izaguirre has recovered from an injury which ruled him out of the defeat to Aberdeen at the weekend. Centre back Jozo Simunovic could make his debut.

Possible Celtic line-up: Gordon, Lustig, Izaguirre, Boyata, Simunovic, Bitton, Brown, Johansen, Forrest, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths

Head to Head

The two teams have met eight times in UEFA competitions, with Ajax winning on three occasions, while Celtic have four victories. When the two sides were drawn together in the Champions League two years ago, Ajax won the home tie 1-0, while Celtic triumphed in Scotland 2-1.

Key Players

el ghazi aja01Anwar El Ghazi

The flying winger is Ajax’s top scorer in the Eredivisie with six goals, but we are yet to see the best of El Ghazi in Europe after underwhelming performances against Rapid Vienna and Jablonec already this season. A direct and pacey winger, El Ghazi will see a lot of the ball against Celtic and if he can replicate his league form then Ajax could be on to a comfortable victory.

griffithsLeigh Griffiths

The Celtic striker has been in outstanding form this season with nine goals in 12 appearances for the club in all competitions. The 25-year-old will be Celtic’s biggest danger in the box and should give both Jairo Riedewald and Joel Veltman a tough night.




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