Ajax need to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Dnipro on Thursday if they are to reach the quarter finals of the Europa League.

dnipro ajaLast week in Kiev, Frank de Boer’s side were made to rue missed chances in an even game as Roman Zozulya’s strike gave the Ukranian side a narrow lead heading into the second leg. Without an away goal, Ajax know that they will need to score at least twice, and not concede if they are to book their place in the quarter finals of a European competition for the first time since 2003 when they were defeated by AC Milan in the Champions League.

Ajax responded from the defeat with one of their most impressive performances of the season, as they brushed aside Heerenveen in Friesland 4-1 on Sunday with striker Arkaduisz Milik netting a double.

Ajax have been boosted with the return of striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson from injury, while Ricardo Kishna will return to the squad after being suspended for disciplinary reasons at the weekend. However left back Nicolai Boilesen is a doubt after picking up an ankle injury on Sunday.

Possible Ajax line-up: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Viergever, Veltman, Moisander, Serero, Bazoer, Klaassen, El Ghazi, Schone, Milik

Dnipro built on their Europa League win with a 1-0 win over Metalurh Zaporizhya in the Ukrainian Premier League, but they head to Amsterdam without three of their first team stars.  Zozulya, Ruslan Rotan and Artem Fedetskyi all picked up yellow card suspensions in the first leg and will miss the tie, but Jaba Kankava returns after serving his ban.

The Ukrainian side have traveled without head coach Myron Markevych, who has stayed at home with an illness.

Possible Dnipro line-up: Boyko, Egidio, Leo Matos, Douglas, Cheberyachko, Fedorchuk, Kankava, Bezus, Konoplyanka, Bruno Gama, Seleznyov

 Key match-ups

 Arkaduisz Milik v Douglas

The Brazilian defender was excellent in the first leg, making several key blocks and tackles to prevent Ajax from scoring an away goal. Milik was poor in Ukraine but found the net twice at the weekend, and its crucial that the Polish striker gets the better of Douglas in Amsterdam for Ajax to progress.

Konoplyanka v Ricardo van Rhijn

The Dnipro winger provided the assist for the goal last week with an excellent run down the left wing before firing in a pin point cross for Zozulya. Konoplyanka is the main danger man for the Ukrainian side and if Ricardo van Rhijn doesn’t track the winger or gets caught out of position then it could prove costly.

Prediction

Ajax deserved at least a draw from the first leg, and against Heerenveen Frank de Boer’s men finally clicked into gear and looked ominous up front. If Milik, El Ghazi and Schone continue to link up like they did at the weekend then Ajax should prove too strong for a Dnipro side that will sit back and defend their lead. The Europa League is the only competition Ajax have left to fight for, and a good performance on Thursday should put them into the last eight.

Ajax 2-0 Dnipro




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