MX23RW : Friday, November 27 10:34:10| >> :60:1397:1397:
Oct 21, 2020 at 8pm UK at Johan Cruijff Arena
AjaxAjax
0-1
LiverpoolLiverpool

Promes (90+3')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Tagliafico (35' og.)
Milner (38'), Alexander-Arnold (80')

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

Sports Mole previews Wednesday night's Champions League clash between Ajax and Liverpool, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two of European football's greatest names face off on Wednesday as Ajax welcome Liverpool to the Johan Cruyff ArenA for their opening Champions League Group D encounter.

The two clubs have lifted the famous trophy 10 times between them, but this will be the first time that they have gone head to head for 54 years.


Match preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on October 17, 2020© Reuters

You have to go back to 1966-67 - before either of these clubs had been crowned European champions - for the last meeting between the two sides.

On that occasion Ajax ran out 7-3 winners on aggregate to reach the quarter-final, with Johan Cruyff - after whom the stadium where the two clubs will meet again is now named - scoring three of Ajax's goals.

If the goal-laden start to the Premier League season is anything to go by, and given that Liverpool have already been involved in two 7-2 scorelines this term, Wednesday's match alone may not be too far off that 10-goal tally.

Liverpool go into the game looking to put a painful Merseyside derby experience behind them in every sense as they were denied a last-gasp victory over Everton by the tightest and most contentious VAR call yet.

The two points that dubious decision cost Jurgen Klopp's side would have been hard enough to take without also losing Virgil van Dijk to an ACL injury which could possibly keep him out for the remainder of the season - a result of a reckless challenge from Jordan Pickford which somehow went unpunished by the on-field referee, the VAR referee and the post-match disciplinary panel.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk collides with Everton's Jordan Pickford in the Premier League on October 17, 2020© Reuters

Add to that injuries for Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip and there is no doubt that it was a damaging day for the champions, despite Klopp being happy with their performance away to the league leaders.

Quite how Liverpool cope without Van Dijk is the question on everyone's lips and, given that they have already conceded 16 goals in eight games across all competitions, it is a puzzle which Ajax will be looking to put to the test here.

The Reds were crowned champions of Europe in 2018-19, when only an incredible Tottenham Hotspur comeback prevented Ajax from meeting them in the final, but they saw their defence ended at the round-of-16 stage last season as Atletico Madrid won home and away to progress just before lockdown.

Liverpool now face the prospect of losing three successive Champions League games for the first time since November 2014, and they head into the contest still without a win from their three October outings across all competitions.

The Merseysiders do boast an impressive record against Dutch opposition, though, remaining unbeaten in their last 13 such games - including six in a row away from home - since their last meeting with Ajax in December 1966.

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag pictured on November 5, 2019© Reuters

By contrast, Ajax have only won one of their last six meetings with English sides, as well as just one win in their last seven home games in this competition against all opposition.

Indeed, while the four-time European champions will fancy their chances of progressing from a group which also contains Atalanta BC and FC Midtjylland, they have only managed to make it into the knockout rounds once from their last seven attempts - their unforgettable run to the semi-finals two years ago.

Erik ten Hag's side have lost a host of key players from that group since, but they have still started this season brightly with four wins from their opening five games.

The most recent of those was a 5-1 triumph over Heerenveen on Sunday, when Dusan Tadic scored a brace to help the Dutch giants maintain their 100% home record so far this term.

It is fair to say that none of their previous visitors have posed the same threat as Wednesday's will, although there may never be a better time to play this Liverpool side as they attempt to adapt to life without the man widely credited with turning them into such a European force again.

Ajax form (all competitions): WWWLW

Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWLLD


Team News

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara after the full-time whistle against Everton on October 17.© Reuters

The news that Van Dijk could miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury which requires surgery has unsurprisingly dominated the headlines in the wake of the Merseyside derby.

However, it is by no means Liverpool's only injury concern; Thiago - man of the match on his full debut at Goodison Park - was left with a knee injury which will be assessed ahead of kickoff after Richarlison's red-card challenge.

The Spain international is expected to miss out, while there have also been question marks raised over Matip after he underwent a scan on a muscle problem from the derby.

Fabinho may be forced into a makeshift centre-back role if Matip does not recover, but Liverpool's midfield ranks should be bolstered by Naby Keita, who is now back in training after being cleared to compete by a negative coronavirus test.

Alisson Becker remains sidelined, although he could return before the end of the month, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a long-term absentee.

Ajax, meanwhile, are blessed with a clean bill of health for this match and could welcome the likes of Quincy Promes and Antony back into the side after they were named on the bench against Heerenveen.

Tadic has had a direct hand in 13 goals in 18 appearances in the Champions League - the most of any Ajax player since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Klaassen, Kudus, Promes; Neres, Tadic, Antony

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane


SM words green background

We say: Ajax 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool may not be in the best form in terms of results, but there was little wrong with their performance against Everton and if they produce a similar display in Amsterdam then they should win.

The big question mark surrounds how they will cope without Van Dijk, particularly against an Ajax attack with plenty of goals in them, but the impact of Liverpool's other stars certainly should not be ignored amid the loss of their centre-back.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

ID:418981:cQx

Who will win Wednesday's Champions League clash between Ajax and Liverpool?

Ajax
Draw
Liverpool
Ajax
33.3%
Draw
0.0%
Liverpool
66.7%
3
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Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara after the full-time whistle against Everton on October 17.
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Thiago 'to miss Liverpool's clash with Ajax'
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Tottenham HotspurSpurs96212191220
2Liverpool96212116520
3Chelsea953122101218
4Leicester CityLeicester96031812618
5Southampton95221713417
6Everton95131916316
7Aston Villa85031911815
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham94231510514
9Wolverhampton WanderersWolves9423910-114
10Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
11Crystal Palace94141213-113
12Arsenal9414910-113
13Manchester CityMan City83321011-112
14Leeds UnitedLeeds93241417-311
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle93241015-511
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton92341315-29
17Burnley8125412-85
18Fulham9117918-94
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom9036618-123
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd9018415-111

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