Ajax host Celtic on Wednesday in a crucial Champions League tie with nothing less than a win acceptable for the Eredivisie champions.

  • By Michael Bell
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ajax v celtA 2-1 defeat in Glasgow two weeks ago has all but ended Ajax’s chances of qualifying for the next round, with Frank de Boer’s side having only picked up one point in three games.

Now the Dutch side must see off Celtic in the Amsterdam Arena if they hope to beat the Scottish champions to third place, and a spot in the Europa League. Ties against AC Milan, and Barcelona follow this game, and three points are crucial for Ajax.

However Ajax are struggling for form having won none of their last three Eredivisie ties, with the latest a uninspiring 1-0 defeat to Vitesse in Amsterdam, where they were completely outplayed.

A big boost for Frank de Boer may be the return of experienced centre back Niklas Moisander, who made his comeback for the clubs reserves on Monday night. Winger Lesley de Sa has also recovered from injury in time for the tie, and will come into contention for the right wing slot.

Celtic, who needed a late goal at the weekend to avoid defeat to Dundee United, are still without their suspended captain Scott Brown. However Coach Neil Lennon is hoping to have Kris Commons back for the tie after injury, while Georgios Samaras, and ex-Ajax winger Derk Boerrigter should be available.

The SPL side have lost both their away games in Europe this season, going down to Shakhter Karagandy and AC Milan, but they won their last competitive tie in Amsterdam, beating Ajax 3-1 back in 2001.

Likely line-ups:

Ajax- Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Boilesen, Veltman, Denswil, Blind, De Jong, Serero, Schone, Klaassen, Sigthorsson

Celtic- Forster, Lustig, Izaguire, Van Dijk, Ambrose, Kayal, Mulgrew, Ledley, Forrest, Commons, Samaras

Ajax were unlucky two weeks ago to lose to Celtic, after conceding a penalty when they were on top, and then a deflected effort in the second half. The Eredivisie side will need to be critical in front of goal, a trait that has been missing throughout their last five matches.

Virgil van Dijk was a rock at the back for Celtic, and he will once again be the man to beat for Ajax’s attackers with the Dutchman hoping to impress national team coach Louis van Gaal enough to include him for the upcoming internationals.

The pressure is all on the home side, who have made their worst ever start to a Champions League campaign, and anything other than a win over Celtic will all but bring their European adventure to an abrupt end.

Ajax fans will make the Amsterdam Arena a formidable atmosphere, but will the players raise to the occasion?

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