MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 20:08:41| >> :600:191333:191333:
Sep 17, 2019 at 8pm UK at Amsterdam Arena
Attendance: 51,441
Promes (18'), Alvarez (50'), Tagliafico (63')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Ajax vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League Group H clash between Ajax and Lille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax begin their quest to repeat and surpass those heroics when they host Lille in their opening Group H outing on Tuesday night.

The Dutch outfit were forced to come through qualifying stages to reach the competition proper despite their performances in 2018-19, whereas Lille's second-place finish in Ligue 1 was enough to earn them a first Champions League campaign for seven years.

Match preview

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag pictured in March 2019© Reuters

Liverpool may have lifted the trophy in May and Tottenham Hotspur may have gone one better than Ajax in reaching the final, but for many the Dutch outfit were the team of last season's Champions League.

Rolling back the years to their previous glory days in this competition, Ajax claimed the scalps of Real Madrid and Juventus in swashbuckling style en route to the semi-finals, where they were dramatically bested by eventual runners-up Spurs.

The heartbreaking manner of the defeat does not appear to have caused any hangover going into the new season, though, and nor has the exits of key players such as Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

Erik ten Hag's side are unbeaten in 10 matches across all competitions since the beginning of the campaign, quickly rising back to the top of the Eredivisie table after claiming their first title since 2014 last term.

Indeed, even without their memorable surge to the Champions League semi-finals it would have been a standout season for Ajax as they also won the KNVB Beker to secure their first double since 2002.

Among their matches already this season have been aggregate victories over PAOK and APOEL in Champions League qualifying, although having to go the long route certainly will not faze them having done the same in 2018-19.

Ajax were the first side in European Cup history to make it all the way from the second qualifying round to the semi-finals, losing just two of 18 European outings throughout the campaign.

Lille coach Christophe Galtier before the match in August 2019© Reuters

A trip to the Johan Cruyff ArenA is a daunting way for Lille to make their Champions League return, then, having not featured in the competition proper since 2012-13.

It is certainly a step up from their last European foray - defeat to Gabala of Azerbaijan in the third qualifying round of the 2016-17 Europa League - and they too have had to cope with the loss of a star player in Nicolas Pepe.

Christophe Galtier's side have alternated between wins and defeats in their opening five Ligue 1 games this term to sit fifth in the table, although they do come into this match off the back of a victory over Angers on Friday night.

Both of their away games so far have ended in defeat without Lille scoring, though, and they are five games without an away win in European football stretching back to 2014.

Ajax form: WWDWWW

Lille form: WLWLW

Team News

Ajax's Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Tottenham Hotspur with Dusan Tadic on May 8, 2019© Reuters

Ajax may have lost some star power over the summer, but there are key members of last season's squad still firing on all cylinders - not least Dusan Tadic.

The former Southampton man has five goals in five league games so far this term, while in all competitions he already boasts eight goals and five assists.

Hakim Ziyech has four goals in five league games to his name too, while Nicolas Tagliafico helped himself to a brace from left-back at the weekend.

Donny van de Beek is a notable absentee for the home side, though, having not featured since Ajax secured their place in the group stages against APOEL.

Noussair Mazraoui picked up a knee injury on international duty which will rule him out of this match, but Ten Hag is expected to welcome back David Neres after resting him at the weekend.

Lille, meanwhile, are without new signing Timothy Weah due to injury, while Xeka also remains sidelined.

Loic Remy should be available after being named on the bench at the weekend following injury, although he is unlikely to lead the line given the form of Victor Osimhen.

The 20-year-old Nigerian has made a flying start to life at the club, scoring five goals in his first five Ligue 1 games to jointly top the scoring charts at this early stage of the season.

Another one to watch is 21-year-old Jonathan Ikone, who scored just eight minutes into his debut for France during the international break.

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Onana; Veltman, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Alvarez, Promes, Martinez; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres

Lille possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Pied, Fonte, Djalo, Bradaric; Andre, Soumare; Ikone, Yazici, Bamba; Osimhen

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We say: Ajax 2-0 Lille

Both sides have some exciting attacking talent on display and will know that this fixture could prove crucial with Chelsea and Valencia providing the other competition in the group. Ajax came alive during the Champions League last season and have started the new one well too, so we are backing them to come away with the win.

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Ajax's Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Real Madrid in February 2019
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171346
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Olympic Games Men's Football
Scottish Premiership
Pre-Season Friendlies
Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
Belarusian Premier League
Ligue 2
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League
2AZ AlkmaarAZ00000000
4FC Twente00000000
5FC UtrechtUtrecht00000000
7Fortuna SittardSittard00000000
8Go Ahead Eagles00000000
11PEC Zwolle00000000
12PSV EindhovenPSV00000000
13RKC WaalwijkRKC Waalwijk00000000
16Sparta RotterdamSparta00000000
18Willem II00000000

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