Verdict: Ajax win
Best Odds: 12/11
Two sides scrapping it out to secure a Europa Conference League ticket for the New Year, Ajax will welcome AEK Athens to Amsterdam on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, while Ajax might have opened the 2023/24 campaign in the midst of an infamous rut, the Dutch giants have come roaring back in an eye-catching fashion. Making plenty of improvements since returning from November’s international break, John van’t Schip’s men have now won four of their previous five appearances across all competitions. Picking up some perfect momentum over the weekend as they secured a 2-1 victory against Sparta Rotterdam, the former Greece boss will be most excited by his side’s clinical performances in the final third. Marking their return from the fortnight interval with a stellar 5-0 victory against Vitesse, Ajax have bagged 15 strikes in just their previous five outings. Although Schip’s side might have already accepted that the best they can muster is a Europa Conference League ticket for the New Year, Thursday’s hosts will be desperate to avoid another public banana skin in Amsterdam.
Still dealing with a stacked injury list in Amsterdam, Ajax will once again be without the likes of Mika Godts, Jay Gorter, Sivert Mannsverk, Remko Pasveer and Branco can den Boomen on Thursday night. However, both settling for a spot on the bench against Sparta Rotterdam over the weekend, Borna Sosa and one-time Arsenal starlet Chuba Akpom should be handed a full recall here.
Notching four goals in as many appearances across all competitions since returning from November’s international break, attacking talisman Brian Brobbey will lead Schip’s charge in midweek.
As for the visitors, while AEK Athens might have opened their Europa League adventure with a famous 3-2 victory away at Brighton on September 21st, Matias Almeyda’s men have largely failed to build on that performance. Collecting just a further point from any of their last four Group B appearances, the Enosi should be bracing themselves for a stern challenge when they arrive in Amsterdam on Thursday night. Mustering just a single point from any of their five historic showdowns against Ajax, the former San Jose Earthquakes boss will also have a mild headache over his side’s extended inconsistencies away from the Agia Sophia Stadium. Including a 3-1 drumming at the hands of French outfit Marseille on October 26th, AEK have won just a pair of their previous five showdowns outside of Athens.
Dealing with a long-term Achilles tendon injury and yet to make a single appearance this season, AEK will once again be without one-time Manchester City academy product Paulo Fernandes Cantin on Thursday night. Likewise, 30-year-old midfielder Jens Jonsson is still suffering from a knock and will not travel to Amsterdam here.
Shown a pair of books against Brighton on November 30th, former Eintracht Frankfurt star Mijat Gacinovic will serve a one-match suspension in midweek.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Ajax and AEK met for their reverse Group B showdown on October 5th, Thursday’s opponents played out a 1-1 stalemate.
- However, AEK have collected just a single point from their five historic meetings against the Dutch giants.
- Ajax have won four of their five appearances since returning from November’s international break.
- Thursday’s hosts have bagged 15 strikes in their previous five appearances across all competitions.
- AEK have recorded just a pair of wins from their previous five matchups away from the Agia Sophia Stadium.
Knowing that only three points will be enough to book a European adventure for the New Year, Ajax will be desperate to build on their recent flurry. Winning all of their previous three domestic appearances and picking up some perfect momentum, the Dutch icons should be smelling a potential opportunity on Thursday night. With AEK only mustering a pair of victories from their last five showdowns away from the Agia Sophia Stadium, we are backing what could be an enjoyable home victory in Amsterdam.
Verdict: Ajax win
Best Odds: 12/11
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