Ajax host French giants Lyon on Wednesday in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. 

Ajax’s young guns have been excellent in the Europa League so far and they reached the semi-finals thanks to two goals in extra time against Schalke. Peter Bosz’s side are now only two games away from the final but standing in their way is French giants Lyon, who hammered AZ 11-2 on aggregate earlier in the competition and have knocked out Roma and Besiktas to reach the last four.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Bosz believes his side have a great chance of reaching the final, but they must be at their best for both legs. He said, “Each team is somehow vulnerable. We see this in the league, but also internationally. Chances we always have, we just have to get to a high level. The level like we have met before.”

Ajax goes into the game having had a weekend off with the KNVB Cup final taking place on Sunday, while Lyon boosted their confidence with a 2-1 win at Angers. Ajax currently sits 2nd in the Eredivisie while Lyon are currently 4th in Ligue 1 and are aiming to win the Europa League in order to qualify for the Champions League next season.

The game is being played at 5.45pm on Wednesday because the 4th of May is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands.

Team News

Bosz is without the suspended duo of Nick Viergever and Joel Veltman meaning Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete will come into the starting line-up and form a very young back four with Matthijs de Ligt and Davinson Sanchez. That is a defence with an average age of just 19.5. Winger Bertrand Traore has shaken off an injury and is fit for the game.

Possible Ajax line-up: Onana, Tete, Riedewald, Sanchez, De Ligt, Schone, Klaassen, Ziyech, Traore, Younes, Dolberg

Lyon are without a cup tied Memphis Depay while there is a major doubt over top scorer and star man Alexandre Lacazette who has travelled with the squad but is very unlikely to play. Corentin Tolisso is also an injury concern.

Possible Lyon line-up: Lopes, Jallet, Rafael, Diakhaby, N’Koulou, Tousart, Gonalons, Cornet, Valbuena, Ghezzal, Fekir

Head to Head

Ajax have never lost to Lyon in four previous meetings in the Champions league. The Amsterdam side won both ties during the 2002/03 group stage and in 2011/12 they played out two 0-0 draws.

Odds

Ajax 7/5 Draw 11/4 Lyon 19/10

Key Players

Kasper Dolberg

Ajax played Schalke off the park in the first leg of their quarter-final without Dolberg, who was injured, but they nearly paid in the second due to taking only a 2-0 lead into the game in Germany. If Ajax are to have a chance of reaching the final they must take a lead into the second leg meaning Dolberg must take any chances that come his way. Lyon’s defence has looked shaky at times this season and the 19-year-old could take advantage of any mistakes. Dolberg has four goals in the Europa League so far.

Nabil Fekir

With star-man Alexandre Lacazette set to miss the first leg, Fekir is set to start up front and the 23-year-old will pose a big threat to the Ajax defence. The 23-year-old has netted six goals in the competition so far including a hat-trick against AZ Alkmaar and he will be hoping to down another Dutch side on Thursday.

Davy Klaassen

Ajax’s captain fantastic scored both goals in the 2-0 first leg win over Schalke and has a knack for netting in big games so far this season. Bosz’s side will need the midfielder to be at top form against Lyon again and lead his side to victory. Klaassen seems destined for a move abroad this summer and the tie with Lyon will be another chance to impress potential suitors.

Mathieu Valbuena 

The heartbeat of the Lyon midfield, Valbeuna is a major creative force for Lyon and will be in charge of their set pieces and is a major threat from free-kicks. If Ajax can keep the mini maestro quiet then they will have a great chance of victory.




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