After their fine victory last Thursday, Ajax head to Germany looking to finish the job against Schalke and reach the Europa League semi-finals.
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Two goals from Davy Klaassen in the Amsterdam Arena have put Ajax in a commanding position but such was their dominance last week that the match really should have been out of sight for the Germans. Only several fantastic saves by goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann stopped Ajax from running riot and they will hope that their lack of goals will not haunt them in the second leg.
Speaking to Ajax TV, Peter Bosz thinks his side will come up against a motivated Schalke team out for revenge, “I expect an exasperated Schalke because they just played upside down in Amsterdam. They will want to take revenge.
“They can save their season to some extent. Europe is the only way they can save face this season. So I expect a storm-provoked Schalke, who will want to run us underfoot from the first minute.”
Ajax haven’t reached the semi-finals of a European competition since 1997 and Bosz believes their progression would be great for the club and Dutch football, “That would be great. In the first case, for the players, who will have such an experience. For the club Ajax, for it is a long time since it happened, but I think also for the entire Dutch football. We are rightly very critical of the state of Dutch football. Then it’s fine if there ever was a success. That you can, of course, call a semifinal. But we need to get it done. ”
Peter Bosz has been boosted by the return of both Kasper Dolberg and Lasse Schone who missed the first leg, but Daley Sinkgraven and Jairo Riedewald are out through injury. Matthijs de Ligt will come into the starting line-up while Dolberg should play through the middle with Bertrand Traore on the right.
Possible Ajax line-up: Onana, Veltman, Viergever, Sanchez, De Ligt, Schone, Klaassen, Ziyech, Younes, Traore, Dolberg
Schalke will be without suspended full-back Thilo Kehrer while Sead Kolasinac and Benedikt Höwedes are injury doubts. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar missed the league match at Darmstadt through illness, but he is fit to face his former side.
Possible Schalke line-up: Farhmann, Coke, Aogo, Badstuber, Nastasic, Goretzka, Bentaleb, Caligiuri, Schopf, Meyer, Burgstaller
Schalke 19/20 Draw 11/4 Ajax 3/1
With 17-year-old Matthijs De Ligt beside him in defence, Sanchez will need to step up and lead the back four on Thursday. The Colombian has been excellent this season and he will need to produce another top performance to see Ajax into the semi-finals. Schalke are likely to pour forward from the start and Sanchez will be the one instructed to keep Burgstaller quiet.
The goalkeeper was in phenomenal form last week to stop the tie being out of reach for Schalke and the Germans will be relying on him again if they are to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals. An Ajax goal would leave Schalke with a huge obstacle to climb so a Fahrmann clean sheet will be key for the hosts.