Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Prediction: Ajax vs PAOK

Verdict: Ajax win and both teams to score

Best Odds: 13/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

With the two sides playing out a 2-2 draw in Greece last week, Ajax will welcome PAOK to Amsterdam for their Champions League Qualification second-leg on Tuesday night.

Ajax

Starting with Tuesday’s hosts, although Ajax may have been disappointed to have only picked up a 2-2 draw away in Thessaloníki last week, the Dutch giants put in a dominant display over the weekend. Reminding teams from across Europe of the form that helped them reach the semi-finals of last year’s Champions League, Erik ten Hag’s side put five past Emmen and the mood in their camp should be on a high. While they may have seen the likes of Frankie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt move on this summer, Ajax still hold a fearsome reputation for their creativity in the final third. Spearheaded by former Southampton man Dusan Tadic who has now found the net in back-to-back Eredivisie appearances, Tuesday’s hosts also held the best-attacking record of any side across Europe’s top-tiers. Despite enjoying the brightest spell in recent memory, Ajax have shown some issues on home soil while on Champions League duty. Along with throwing away a two-goal lead against Spurs back in May, they have failed to win any of their last four European matches in Amsterdam.

Team News

Head Coach Erik ten Hag has confirmed that teenage starlet Carel Eiting will be unable to feature on Tuesday due to an injury issue.

PAOK

As for the visitors, although PAOK would have been disappointed to have thrown away their 2-1 half-time lead against Ajax in Thessaloníki last week, the defending Greek champions have enjoyed a free-scoring summer. Eventually holding a two-point buffer over Panathinaikos in the final standings, Head Coach Abel Ferreira saw his side win each of their final four pre-season outings, including victories over Anderlecht and 5-1 win over another Dutch outfit in Fortuna Sittard. Although Aspromavri are enjoying a competitive unbeaten run that stems back to the 6th of February, they have struggled with their European performances on the road. Tuesday’s guests have recorded just one away Champions League win in their history. If PAOK are to surprise many and come past last year’s semi-finalists, then Tuesday’s traveling support will be looking for former Arsenal starlet Chuba Akpom to extend his bright run of form. Bagging four against Fortuna Sittard last month, the striker now has six goals in his last three appearances.

Team News

PAOK have no new injury or suspensions to worry about and are expected to field the same XI that picked up a 2-2 draw in the first-leg last week.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Each of the last five matches between the two sides have seen both teams find the net within 90 minutes.
  • Ajax held the best-attacking record across any of Europe’s top tiers last season with 119 goals.
  • PAOK striker Chuba Akpom has scored six goals in his last three matches.
  • PAOK have never won a match away at Ajax.
  • Dusan Tadic has scored in back-to-back matches at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

Conclusion

On paper, this has all the makings of what should be a lively encounter in Amsterdam. While PAOK may have managed to pick up an impressive 2-2 draw against the Dutch giants last week, Tuesday’s hosts do hold the advantage with those two away goals and Erik ten Hag’s side should be looking to make a statement in midweek. While we do expect the Greek champions to breach Ajax’s defensive line at some point, we do expect last seasons semi-finalists to come away with the victory in Amsterdam.

Verdict: Ajax win and both teams to score

Best Odds: 13/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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