Ajax’s bid to reach the Europa League quarter-finals begins in Denmark on Thursday as they face Copenhagen in the first leg of their last 16 tie. Kick off 6pm. 

Peter Bosz’s side have had an excellent campaign in Europe so far this season and reached the last 16 of the competition after edging out Legia Warsaw 1-0 on aggregate.

However, Ajax are in for their toughest test yet when they face a dangerous and physical Copenhagen side, that hasn’t conceded in all seven home ties in Europe this season. The Dane’s started the season in the Champions League but fell out of the competition after finishing third in a group containing Porto, Leicester City and Club Brugge. They then booked their meeting with Ajax by seeing off Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, Bosz stated that Copenhagen are a very good side and he knows his team are in for a physical battle on the pitch.

He added, “It is certainly different from what we are used to. In terms of tactics is it again a little like what FC Groningen did against us on Sunday, with a 4-4-2 tactic. It is up to us to find an answer. That Copenhagen gives little goals away we know. They have in the Champions League and the Europa League proved to be a very good team. “

Ajax go into the game on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw at Groningen which keeps them four points adrift of league leaders Feyenoord. Copenhagen hammered Horsens 5-0 which puts them 12 points clear at the top of the Danish league.

Team News

Ajax will be without the suspended duo Joel Veltman and Davinson Sanchez, while Justin Kluivert didn’t travel with the squad as he played in the UEFA Youth League tie against Real Madrid. Bosz has already confirmed that Kenny Tete will play at right-back while Matthijs de Ligt comes into the centre of defence. Nick Viergever is a slight doubt but is expected to be fit. If not then Jairo Riedewald should come into the side.

Expected Ajax line-up: Onana, Tete, Sinkgraven, Viergever, De Ligt, Schone, Klaassen, Ziyech, Traore, Younes, Dolberg

Copenhagen have a few familiar faces in their squad with ex-Ajax left-back Nicolai Boilesen set to face his former club for the first time, while former NAC midfielder Uros Matic and ex-Twente winger Kasper Kusk could also feature.

Possible Copenhagen line-up: Olsen, Ankersen, Augustinsson, Jorgensen, Johansson, Falk, Toutouh, Matic, Kvist, Cornelius, Santander

Previous meetings

Ajax and Copenhagen have met on four previous occasions with the Danes coming out on top in two of those matches, while Ajax have only recorded one victory. The last meetings came in the 2006/07 Champions League third qualifying round with Copenhagen knocking Ajax out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate.

Players to watch

Kasper Dolberg

The hugely talented striker has had a dip in form recently and was left out of the Denmark squad named on Wednesday. Back in his home country, Dolberg will be eager to make an impression and prove the national team boss wrong.

Andreas Cornelius

The former Cardiff City flop has been in good form up front for Copenhagen this season with seven goals in the league and a further five in Europe. Without first choice defender Davinson Sanchez, Ajax will need to be wary of the forward, who is strong in the air and with the ball at his feet.

Davy Klaassen

Ajax’s captain fantastic was once again on the scoresheet on Sunday to rescue a point against Groningen and Bosz will be hoping that Klaassen will be key again on Thursday. The midfielder has already netted 16 goals this season, making it his most prolific year ever.

Odds

Copenhagen 6/4, Draw 11/5 Ajax 11/5




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