Ajax vs Liverpool: Champions League preview, team news, key battles, and prediction
The UEFA Champions League is back this week with two of Europe’s most illustrious clubs, Ajax Amsterdam and Liverpool face each other in the opening match of Group D. The two clubs have won the champions league trophy 10 times between them. Though both teams have such strong European pedigree, this would be their first meeting in 54 years.
Liverpool will be going into the game with a lot of pain endured by them in the gruesome Merseyside derby game against Everton on Saturday. They not only lost two points due to the controversial offside decision in injury time but also lost their commander-in-chief, Virgil van Dijk to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
Ajax has lost once in their last eight competitive fixtures. That was a 1-0 defeat at Groningen in the Eredivisie earlier this month.
On Sunday, they beat Heerenveen 5-1 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA thanks to goals from Dušan Tadic (x2), Mohammed Kudus, Davy Klaassen and Antony Santos. Currently, Ajax sits second in the Eredivisie, one point behind PSV Eindhoven.
Currently, Ajax manager, Erik Ten Haag has the luxury of going with his best XI for this game since they have no players missing through injury or suspension.
Probable line up: Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Álvarez, Klaassen, Promes; Neres, Labyad, Tadic
The Reds have lost their influential leader in Virgil Van Dijk for at least 7 months after he suffered a horrific injury due to a clash with Everton goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby on Saturday.
Fabinho may be forced into a makeshift center-back role if Matip does not recover, but Liverpool's midfield ranks should be bolstered by Naby Keita, who is now back in training after being cleared to compete by a negative coronavirus test.
Probable line up – Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané
Doubtful: Thiago, Alisson Becker, Naby Keita
Unavailable: Virgil Van Dijk, Alex Oxlade Chamberlin
Ajax form in their last 5 games: W-W-W-L-W
Liverpool form in their last 5 games: W-W-W-L-D
Nicolas Tagliafico vs Mohamed Salah
The Argentinian left-back will be entrusted with the responsibility of keeping Liverpool’s Mo Salah quiet this season. This will be their meeting as well.
Dusan Tadic vs Trent Alexander Arnold
The former Southampton man would be no stranger to the Liverpool right back with their past duels in the premier league. Tadic will be looking to cut inside to create chances for his side. Trent Alex Arnold will have to time his runs forward to perfection as Tadic would be looking to exploit the spaces.
Prediction: Ajax 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool boasts an impressive record against Dutch opposition, though, remaining unbeaten in their last 13 such games. By contrast, Ajax has only won one of their last six meetings with English sides, as well as just one win in their last seven home games in this competition against all opposition.