We’re back at the impressive Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday evening as Dutch Eredivisie champions Ajax welcome English Premier League contenders Liverpool. This promises to be an exciting 90 minutes involving two free-scoring and ambitious teams that believe they are good enough to win the points needed to keep alive their hopes of progressing. Knockout football is a possibility for both Ajax and Liverpool at present, but with neither side willing to back down, things could get intense in the Netherlands.
Ajax and Liverpool rank amongst the best teams in Europe, and their names are renowned for finding success at every level, from domestic leagues and cups to this, the biggest stage in club football. Group A remains competitive after four games played, with three sides in the running to fill the top two spaces. Ajax and Liverpool are joined by current leaders Napoli who host bottom club Rangers. After winning 3-0 in Glasgow earlier in the campaign, that’s a match the Serie A big hitters are the favourites to win. If they do as expected and beat Rangers, it will make the outcome of this game even more important to decide which side follows Napoli to the next stage.
Looking through the history books, we notice Ajax and Liverpool have met five times previously in competitive action, with Liverpool currently on three wins against the one for Ajax and a single draw. The most recent game, played earlier in the Champions League, saw Liverpool win 2-1 at Anfield, but they needed an 89th-minute winner to keep hold of the points. Having come so close to pulling off a shock result at Anfield, Ajax will want to make amends by winning at home and keeping themselves in the running for that second place.
Ajax lose three on the bounce
Ajax got off to the best start possible when beating Rangers here on matchday one. It was expected to be a competitive contest after the Gers had beaten PSV Eindhoven over two legs to qualify for the group stages. But there was to be no shock result as Ajax swaggered to all three points in their opening match, sending out a message to the rest of the pool. They are here to compete and believe they are good enough to fill one of the top two places in the pool. How things have changed since that delight of that win over Rangers.
Ajax has since lost each of their three games in this group and can now be found sitting in third place with three points on the board. That tally leaves them nine points off the pace set by Napoli, meaning a group win is now impossible. With each of the top two sides progressing to the next round, the Dutch side now pins their hopes of finishing in the silver medal position. That remains possible, and if Ajax is able to repeat what they did on matchday one and win at the Amsterdam Arena, they will budge their tally to six points with a game to play. At present, Liverpool sits second with nine points against their name, meaning time is running out for the locals.
Ajax last played Champions League football with a trip to Italy, where they faced the runaway leaders of the group in Napoli, and it was the Italians who claimed the spoils. While Liverpool was thumping Rangers 7-1 in Glasgow, Napoli was beating Ajax 4-2 in Naples. The losing team’s goals were scored by Klaassen and Bergwijn, the second netting from the penalty spot just minutes before the full-time whistle to help restore some pride in the Dutch club. Ajax knows they must win this game. It’s as simple as that.
Reds still have work to do
Liverpool is sitting pretty in second place and looks likely to live up to expectations and progress. There are no doubts Jurgen Klopp’s side could have been included in an easier pool, but the English Premier League runners-up are holding their own in Europe this season and are potentially one match away from going through. If they beat Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday, it will be over. Mission complete with the team through to the next round with a game to spare. That is the ideal scenario from here, but the Reds still have work to do, and the visiting players know exactly what is expected of them.
We find the English side with nine points on the board following three wins on the bounce. They were beaten on matchday one by Napoli, and at the time, that was a shock result. Not anymore. The Italians are streets ahead after four games and have already secured their passage to the knockout stages, where they’ll be playing Champions League football in the early part of 2023. They beat Ajax on matchday two before recording back-to-back wins over Rangers, including that stunning 7-1 win at Ibrox, a result that caught many people by surprise, given the Gers reached the Europa League final just a few months ago.
We last saw Klopp and co in Premier League action at the weekend when they were beaten 1-0 at the City Ground by recently promoted Nottingham Forest. The Tricky Trees were playing Championship football at this stage last year but are now shooting down the mighty reds, and that is quite a story. That EPL loss angered fans and piled pressure on the players ahead of this trip to Amsterdam. Another defeat could be the start of trouble for a side that has been unconvincing so far this term.
Ajax v Liverpool prediction
Ajax simply must make their home advantage count if they are to stay in the fight, while Liverpool knows a draw would be enough to send them through. The locals must go on the attack, but in doing so, they will leave themselves open to the counter, and that’s where they could be hurt.
Champions League odds
Ajax is priced at 3.9 with 22bet to win this match, or you can try Liverpool at odds of 1.808. The draw will net backers 4.1 if these sides finish level.
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