Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/8
Dutch giants Ajax play host to Ligue 1 side Lyon in the first leg of Europa League semifinal tie in Amsterdam, with both sides looking to make an important step towards clinching their spot in the finals.
The Amsterdam-based club has been enjoying a fine home form of late and will be hoping to extend the run in order to make their mark on the highly-anticipated Europa League semifinal. Peter Bosz’s men have remained unbeaten in their last 8 matches on home ground, and in 12 European home games. Ajax will still have to overcome a slight dip in form if they are to remain in the hunt for the final. Ajax narrowly escaped elimination in the quarterfinal as they were forced to fight through the extra time against Schalke. Both teams won 2-0 in respective legs to send the clash into extra time when Ajax first conceded through Caligiuri, but did great to score two courtesy of Viergeven and Younes and end the game suffering a 3-2 defeat, but going through on the back of a 4-3 aggregate win. Exhausted from their excruciating feat, Ajax suffered a 1-0 Eredivisie defeat at PSV last time out which put a significant spin on the title race in the Netherlands, but will have done little to kill the morale of Peter Bosz’s men. Even though they look set to clinch the Champions League place through league finish, Ajax are rather motivated to go all the way in Europa League, given this is their first time to reach semifinal stage in all eight campaigns of the competition thus far.
Daley Sinkgraven is nursing his knee injury and will not be able to help his teammates against Lyon.
Patrick Kluivert’s son Justin has been in fine form of late and could be rewarded with a starting berth with the Dutch giants.
The quarterfinal tie against Besiktas turned out to be quite a nervy affair for French side Lyon. Bruno Genesio’s men were forced to rely on the kicks from the penalty spot to clinch their place in the semifinals of the UEFA Europa League after losing 2-1 in normal time. Emotionally drained after a tiring match, Lyon welcomed AS Monaco in Ligue 1 derby which was solved in the first half when Falcao and in-form starlet Mbappe sealed the faith of Bruno Genesio’s men with two quick goals putting Lyon’s European places under threat. Lyon recovered with a 2-1 win at Angers to keep hold of the fourth place in the standings, but are expected to focus their attention fully on Europa League as that could be their only ticket to Europe’s elite club competition next season. Lyon have good memories of the Netherlands as they have already played a Dutch team this season, thrashing AZ Alkmaar 4-1 away and 7-1 at home for a comprehensive victory in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. Lyon are heading into the game feeling motivated to do well in their first semifinal since 2009/10 Champions League, where they got eliminated by Bayern Munich. They also have a chance to become the first-ever French side to win the Europa League and there is no doubt they will do their best to succeed.
Lyon’s chances of securing a good result have been given a blow with team’s key player Alexandre Lacazette ruled out with hip injury.
The visitors will also be without Emanuel Mammana who is struggling with a knee problem.
Key Factors to Consider
- Ajax are unbeaten in 12 European home matches
- Lyon scored at least a goal in 5 of their six European away fixtures
- Ajax are the only club to appear in all 8 Europa League campaigns
- Dutch side are playing their first Europa League semifinal however
- No French team has ever won UEFA Cup or Europa League
Ajax are looking to extend their fine home stretch against their French rivals and grab the Europa League semifinal tie by the scruff of the neck in order to avoid drama seen in the previous round. Home advantage could be a key in this fixture.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/8
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