Ajax begin their Europa League campaign against Polish side Legia Warsaw at the Amsterdam Arena on Thursday. Kick off 8.05pm.

kishna aowFor the fifth season in a row Ajax dropped into Europe’s 2nd biggest club competition after finishing third in their Champions League group, this time behind PSG and Barcelona. Frank de Boer’s side have had a terrible time in the Europa league recently, exiting in the first knockout round in each of the last three seasons, and they will be determined to end that run against Legia Warsaw.

De Boer stated on Tuesday that Ajax are determined to do well in the competition, “We have no target in terms of what we want to achieve in the Europa League, but it is about time that we get far.”

Ajax go into the game under pressure from their fans, who have been unhappy with the teams performances recently. After three games without a win, the Eredivisie champions have struggled to victories over Go Ahead Eagles and Twente recently, but sit 12 points off leaders PSV Eindhoven in the league.

De Boer has tinkered with his starting line-up recently, but his decision to play Lasse Schone as a false nine has not impressed, with the introduction of striker Arkaduisz Milik a catalyst for victory over Twente at the weekend, and it remains to be seen whether the Polish forward starts against the club from his homeland.

Ajax will be without the injured Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Joel Veltman, but Ricardo van Rhijn and Lucas Andersen took part in training and could feature on Thursday after recovering from knocks. Debuts in Europe could be handed to Riechedly Bazoer, Kenny Tete and new signing Daley Sinkgraven.

Possible Ajax line-up: Cillessen, Van Rhijn/Tete, Boilesen, Moisander, Van der Hoorn, Klaassen, Serero, Bazoer, Kishna, Schone, Milik

Legia Warsaw have been in great form in Europe this season and they were unlucky not to qualify for the Champions League group stage after being expelled for fielding a suspended player during their 6-1 aggregate win over Celtic. In the Europa League the Polish champions breezed through their group, winning five of their six matches, only losing 1-0 to Lokern in Belgium.

Domestically Henning Berg’s side have just returned from their month long winter break and they have shown signs of rustiness, drawing 1-1 with Slask Wroclaw in the cup before losing 3-1 at home to Jagiellonia Bialystok at the weekend. Legia currently sit two points clear at the top of the Polish league.

Key midfielder Ondrej Duda is out of the first leg with a sprained ankle.

Possible Legia line-up: Kuciak, Broz, Guilherme, Astiz, Lewczuk, Vrdoljak, Jodlowiec, Radovic, Kosecki, Zyro, Sa

Players to watch:

bazoer ajaRiechedly Bazoer

The 18-year-old has burst into the Ajax starting eleven recently and has been a revelation, impressing with his dominant midfield displays, and scoring a wonderful volley in the 4-2 win over Twente on Sunday. Bazoer is on his way to the top and his first appearance in Europe could come on Thursday.

sa aajOrlando Sa

The former Fulham and Porto striker has been in good scoring form this season and goes into the match as Legia Warsaw’s top marksman with 10 goals in 19 appearances. The 6ft 2 forward will pose a threat to the Ajax defence with his height and strength.

000 miArkaduisz Milik

Milik has been dropped to the bench recently by Frank de Boer, but against a club from his homeland, the striker may find his way back into the starting line up, especially after impressing against Twente at the weekend. 17 goals in 25 appearances, but only one of those in Europe this season, the Polish international will be eager to open his Europa League account against Legia.

LEGIA WARSZAWA - WISLA KRAKOWMichal Zyro

The 22-year-old right winger is a product of the Legia youth academy and his impressive form over the past season have made him a five cap Polish international. Eight goals in 25 appearances is a good return for the attacker, and his seven assists prove that he will be one to watch for the Ajax back-line.

Can Ajax end their terrible Europa League run?

Out of the three Dutch clubs left in the Europa League, Ajax have been handed the kindest draw, but Legia Warsaw have proved in the Europa League so far that they are certainly no pushovers and cannot be underestimated. Ajax’s form has been shaky lately, but they should have too much in attack for a Legia side still trying to find form after a long winter break. Arkaduisz Milik has a point to prove to Frank de Boer and the striker could prove the difference.

A comfortable win at the Amsterdam Arena will put Ajax in a commanding position heading to Poland next week.




admin (11252 Posts)

Follow @Footballoranje_ on Twitter