Ajax hosts Aston Villa in the first leg of their Conference League last 16 tie on Thursday. The clash kicks off at 17:45 bst.

Ajax may be having a disappointing campaign in the Eredivisie at the moment but they have managed to reach this stage of the Conference League thanks to a slender victory over Bodo/Glimt.

Standing between Ajax and a quarter-final is Premier League side Aston Villa, who are having an impressive season under Unai Emery.

The Birmingham-based club eased through their group that contained AZ Alkmaar to reach this stage of the competition. They defeated AZ 4-1 in Alkmaar and 2-1 at home.

Emery’s side are also on course for a place in the Champions League as they currently sit 4th and five points ahead of nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Ajax warmed up for the game with an impressive 2-0 win over Utrecht, while Aston Villa sneaked past Luton Town 3-2.

Team News

Ajax are set to be without Steven Bergwijn and Steven Berghuis for the 1st leg, while Josip Sutalo is suspended.

Ajax are set to stick with their five at the back formation and they could stick with the XI that defeated Utrecht.

Possible Ajax line-up: Ramaj; Gooijer, Rensch, Kaplan, Hato, Sosa; Hlynsson, Henderson, Mannsverk, Taylor; Brobbey

Aston Villa could be without midfielder Jacob Ramsey after he suffered an injury at the weekend, while Diego Carlos is a doubt. Tyrone Mings, Emi Buendia and Boubacar Kamara are long term absentees.

Possible Aston Villa line-up: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Moreno; Bailey, McGinn, Luiz, Tielemans; Diaby; Watkins

Odds

Ajax 4/1 Draw 3/1 Aston Villa 4/6

Ajax need to keep the game alive for the 2nd leg

This is a far from ideal tie for an Ajax side hat has been struggling defensively this season and Aston Villa are big favourites for a reason.

The Premier League side play good attacking football and Ajax will have a tough time to keep out Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey. However, there remains hope that Ajax can get a result and the win over Utrecht was definitely an improvement.

Brian Brobbey will be key up front and he will need to lead from the front if Ajax are to get anything. One good thing for Ajax is that Villa may have one eye on a key Premier League match with Tottenham this weekend.




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