Ajax captain Davy Klaassen will be hoping to get off to a winning start when the Eredivisie leaders take on Celtic in Thursday’s Europa League encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA.
The Dutch giants failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League after Rapid Vienna proved too strong in their qualifying tie and have now turned their attention to the Europa League instead.
Joined by Celtic, Fenerbahce and Molde in Group A, Ajax could hardly have been dealt a tougher draw.
“The Europa League kicks off against Celtic. I have nothing but good memories of Celtic,” Klaassen told the official Ajax website.
“It’s a beautiful draw. It’s a shame that we are not in the Champions League, but the Europa League is great as well.
“Normally, we should be able to survive the group stages. I don’t know too much about Molde. Everybody will expect them to finish last in the group. Fenerbahce are really strong in my opinion, but so are we and Celtic.
“We will have to collect most of our points at home, starting on Thursday. I hope we can get the best out of ourselves.”
It will be the first time Ajax and Celtic meet in the Europa League, but they did face off in the Champions League in 2013-14, with Ajax recording a 1-0 win in Amsterdam after losing 2-1 in Glasgow.
Left-back Mitchell Dijks might miss Thursday’s encounter due to injury, while Anwar El Ghazi is not 100 per cent match fit either, yet head coach Frank de Boer has few other injury concerns.
Celtic, meanwhile, will be looking to forget about their loss against Aberdeen at the weekend by getting a good result in Amsterdam.
“This is a great game to look forward to – playing in the Amsterdam ArenA, one of the best stadiums in football,” striker Leigh Griffiths said.
“There will be 50,000 people there and we’ve got to go and put on a performance for our fans.
“We’ve got a good side and if we go over and do our job I don’t see why we can’t get all three points.
“Everybody was disappointed at Pittodrie but that’s part and parcel of being a footballer – you’re always disappointed when you lose, but come Sunday we were all back in and the focus was on Ajax.”
Celtic will face a tough task to bag the full three points in Amsterdam, however, and their recent results in the Europa League give litttle reason for optimism.
The Bhoys are winless in their last five Europa League matches and have not won a single one of their 10 away matches in the competition, losing four and drawing six.