Only a miracle Lucas Moura goal kept Ajax out of the Champions League Final last season, and the Dutch giants are out to make another deep run in the competition. Ajax have won the Champions League four times in their history, and this club is atop Group H even though they sold off both Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt during the summer. They can put a hammerlock on this group with a victory over Chelsea this Wednesday.
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- Ajax vs. Chelsea
- Date and Time: October 23, 2019, 12:55 p.m. ET
- Location: Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- US Television Coverage: TNT
- Betting Line: Ajax PK and -0.5, O/U 3
It appeared that it could be a long year for Chelsea after the club was routed 4-0 by Manchester United in the opener, but the Blues are in position to contend in the Premier League. They are 4-2-2 with their only other loss in league play coming against undefeated Liverpool, and this team has solved the scoring troubles that threatened to derail their season. Chelsea have the third-most goals in the Premier League with 18 goals through eight games.
Chelsea have one win and one loss in Champions League play so far this campaign, losing at Stamford Bridge to Valencia after Rodrigo scored a goal in the final 15 minutes and beating Lille in France 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Willian. A win here would put them in the driver’s seat to win Group H despite a home loss to Valencia.
Ajax are dominating the Eredivisie to no one’s surprise. They are 7-2-0 and have a goal differential of +23 through nine games, giving them a tiebreaker edge over other Dutch power PSV Eindhoven.
This club has been fantastic in the Champions League too. Ajax hammered Lille 3-0 in Amsterdam to get off to a great start, and they crushed Valencia 3-0 in Spain to move three points clear of the group. Given the nature of the knockout rounds, Ajax would love to grab first place as it gives last year’s semifinalist a better chance of getting to the quarterfinals.
Chelsea are pretty banged up ahead of this match. The biggest absence will be N’Golo Kante as the midfielder is key to the Blues’ plans on defense, but they will also be without the services of Marco van Ginkel, Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Andreas Christensen. Reece James, Emerson, and Mateo Kovacic are all probable though.
Midfielder Zakaria Labyad has been out for the last few weeks for Ajax, and he is questionable to return to duty on Wednesday. Dusan Tadic is questionable as well and not having him would be a big loss for the hosts.
Ajax Player to Watch
Tadic has been Ajax’s most prolific player with five goals and eight assists in domestic action this year, but Hakim Ziyech has been the most impressive. He has been Man of the Match twice, and he has four goals and five assists. He has great synergy with Quincy Promes and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and they can carve up a Chelsea back line that has allowed 14 goals in domestic play.
Chelsea Player to Watch
Tammy Abraham has emerged as an elite scoring option for the Blues. Abraham is tied with Sergio Aguero as the Premier League’s leading scorer with eight goals, and that has kept Chelsea competitive. He’ll need to score at least once for Chelsea to get a result here given the state of their defending without Kante.
Look for the Dutch to tally multiple goals here and earn three crucial points.
Champions League Prediction: Ajax 2, Chelsea 1
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