Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Prediction: PAOK vs Ajax

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

Two sides who are looking to move one step closer to securing a spot in the group stage of this year’s Champions League, Ajax will travel to greek outfit PAOK on Tuesday evening.

PAOK

Starting with the hosts, after enjoying a stellar campaign in Greeks top-tier last season and claiming their first Super League crown since 1985, the mood in PAOK’s camp is the highest it has been in recent memory. Eventually finishing with a five-point buffer over former European heavyweights Olympiacos, Aspromavri have continued to shine over the summer. Coming off the back of an impressive display in their 5-1 win away at another Dutch outfit in Fortuna Sittard in their final pre-season appearance, Head Coach Abel Ferreira has seen his side win each of their last four matchups and have tasted defeat just once across any competition since the 6th of February. Along with bagging five goals away at Sittard last weekend, fans around the Stadio Toumbas will be most impressed by their sides form in the final third. PAOK have scored a very impressive 17 goals on their four-match winning run and have now scored two or more goals in each of their last six consecutive appearances.

Team News

Maurício, Vieirinha and Pontus Wernbloom all miss out for the hosts ahead of this crucial first leg.

Ajax

As for the visitors, while Ajax might be feeling the effects after seeing both teenage starlets Frankie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt moving to Barcelona and Juventus respectively this summer, the mood in their camp should be on a high. Lifting their first Eredivisie in four seasons, Erik ten Hag’s men also picked up the Dutch Super Cup with a 2-0 win over PSV last month. However, despite reaching the semi-finals of last year’s Champions League, they have shown some minor signs of a struggle of late. Only managing to pick up a point against Vitesse on Saturday, they have won just one of their last four matches across all competitions. Although the Dutch giants may be struggling with some defensive issues of late, fans around Amsterdam will be overjoyed by Dusan Tadic’s start to the new campaign. Finding the net in Ajax’s opening contest last weekend, the former Southampton man bagged 28 league goals last season and also finished with the Golden Boot.

Team News

Hassane Bandé is a doubt for the Dutch side, who are looking to establish themselves following major departures this summer.

Key Factors to Consider

  • PAOK have won each of their last four pre-season appearances, scoring 17 goals on that winning run.
  • Ajax have won just one of their last four matches across all competitions.
  • The Dutch side have also recorded just one clean sheet in their last 12 contests.
  • 14 of the last 17 matches combined matches between the two sides have seen both teams score in 90 minutes.
  • PAOK have won each of their last six matches on home soil, scoring two or more goals in all bar one of those contests.

Conclusion

On paper, this has all the makings of a matchup that should produce plenty of chances at both ends. While Ajax may hold more European pedigree than their Greek opponents, they have begun to show some signs of a struggle, particularly defensively. With 14 of the last 17 combined matches seeing both teams find the net within 90 minutes, we’re backing a similar outcome in Thessaloníki on Tuesday evening.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 10/11

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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