MX23RW : Monday, January 21 06:28:49
Sep 17, 2015 at 6pm UK at ​Amsterdam Arena
Ajax
2-2
Celtic
Fischer (24'), Schone (84')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Bitton (8'), Lustig (42')
Izaguirre (73')

Preview: Ajax vs. Celtic

Sports Mole previews the Europa League clash between Ajax and Celtic at the Amsterdam ArenA.

Both Ajax and Celtic will be looking to overcome the disappointments of their exits from the Champions League when they face off in their first Europa League group game.

Ronny Deila's men crashed out of the competition at the hands of Malmo, while the Dutch side were beaten by Rapid Vienna.


Ajax

Ajax Amsterdam head coach Frank de Boer attends a press conference after the training session in Amsterdam, on April 11, 2014© Getty Images

Frank de Boer's men earned their place in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League as a result of their second-place finish in Eredivisie last term.

Ajax were drawn against Vienna in the third qualifying round, and claimed a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their clash, but were defeated 3-2 by the Austrian club at the Amsterdam ArenA to crash out of the competition.

It was the first time the Dutch side had not reached the Champions League proper since the 2009-10 season, and they were forced to battle past Jablonec to reach the group stage of the Europa League.

The club have won the competition twice in their history, the last of which came in 1992 under the management of Louis van Gaal.

Despite their exit from the Champions League, Ajax have enjoyed a strong start to their season in Eredivisie as they have dropped just two points in their opening five matches, which came in their last outing against FC Twente.

De Boer will be hopeful that his side can continue their positive start to the campaign in front of goal against the Bhoys after scoring 14 times in their first five league matches, while the two goals they conceded against Twente were their first since the start of August.

Recent form: WWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWD


Celtic

Celtic manager Ronny Deila looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying play off first leg match, between Celtic FC and Malmo FF at Celtic Park on August 19, 2015© Getty Images

Celtic also exited the Champions League in disappointing circumstances as they lost to Malmo in a 4-3 aggregate defeat, resulting in the club missing out on the group stage for the second straight year.

The loss was a huge blow for Deila and his men as they looked to be in a good position to reach the group stage when they took a 3-1 lead in the first leg of their clash at Celtic Park, but a late Jo Inge Berget strike switched the momentum in the tie.

The second leg was a disaster for the Bhoys as a strike from Markus Rosenberg and a own goal from Dedryck Boyata condemned them to a 2-0 defeat and sent them out of the Champions League.

Celtic did respond to their exit with a solid 3-1 win over St Johnstone, but they fell to their first league defeat of the campaign against 10-man Aberdeen last week at Pittodrie. The defeat has left them five points behind the Dons after seven matches this season.

Second place in the Scottish Premiership is an unusual position for the Bhoys to be, and as a result slight pressure has begun to grow on Deila, especially in the manner of his side's exit from the Champions League.

The Norwegian will be hopeful that his side can get back to winning ways against Ajax to rebuild some confidence and establish themselves in the competition.

Recent form: WDWWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWL


Team News

Nadir Ciftci of Celtic makes his debut at the Pre Season Friendly between Celtic and Real Sociedad at St Mirren Park on July 10th, 2015© Getty Images

Deila will likely ring the changes from his side's defeat to Aberdeen, with Nadir Ciftci, Efe Ambrose and James Forrest likely to come into the starting lineup.

Tyler Blackett is expected to continue at centre-back alongside Boyata after making his debut at Pittodrie, following the departure of Virgil van Dijk, as Charlie Mulgrew and Mikael Lustig will operate in the full-back positions.

De Boer may make changes to his side by starting the players that inspired Ajax's second-half comeback against Twente. Viktor Fischer, Yaya Sanogo and Ricardo van Rhijn could all feature at the Amsterdam ArenA after their impressive substitute appearances.

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Tete, Viergever, Veltman, Van Rhijn; Bazoer, Klaassen, Gudelj, Sinkgraven El Ghazi, Fischer

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Blackett Mulgrew; Biton, Brown; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Forrest; Griffiths


Head To Head

The teams last met in the Champions League two seasons ago when the Dutch side recorded a 1-0 win at the Amsterdam ArenA through a strike from Lasse Schone.

However, Celtic won the clash at Celtic Park as Forrest and Biram Kayal found the net to guide the club to a 2-1 win, despite Nir Biton being dismissed late in the game.

Over the course of history, the Bhoys hold the edge in this fixture by winning four of the eight clashes, while Ajax have only managed three wins.


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We say: Ajax 2-0 Celtic

The Dutch side have been strong at home this season and are currently on a good run of form, appearing to be very confident in front of goal. Celtic have been nervy at the back and lacked a cutting edge up front in their defeat to Aberdeen. So, Ajax should have enough to claim the win.


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Who will win the Europa League clash between Ajax and Celtic?

Ajax
Draw
Celtic
Ajax
75.5%
Draw
10.6%
Celtic
13.8%
Ajax's head coach Frank de Boer gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Celtic and Ajax at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 22, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1PSV EindhovenPSV18161162105249
2Ajax18152164125247
3Feyenoord18113436231336
4Vitesse188553023729
5AZAZ188463326728
6FC Utrecht188463026428
7VVV-VenloVVV-Venlo187562526-126
8Heracles188283338-526
9Willem II186482734-722
10Heerenveen185674043-321
11Fortuna SittardSittard185583035-520
12ADO Den HaagADO Den Haag185582538-1320
13Groningen1853102128-718
14PEC Zwolle1853102031-1118
15EmmenEmmen184682138-1718
16SBV Excelsior1844102548-2316
17NAC BredaNAC Breda1843112139-1815
18De GraafschapDe Graafschap1843111944-2515

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