Ajax’s aspirations of advancing from UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group A have become razor-thin since losing their last three group games, leaving them in third place, and six points behind second-placed opponents Liverpool.
This is therefore a must-win game for Alfred Schreuder’s men, who will be feeling good about themselves after winning their last two Eredivisie matches by a combined score of 11-2.
The locals might not share that feeling though with a 6-1 hammering by Napoli in Ajax’s last home UCL match – their biggest-ever home European loss – still fresh in the memory. That will only compound the home crowd’s fears as they prepare to face Liverpool, especially as the 2-1 loss in the reverse fixture means they’ve won only once across their last nine games against English opposition (D2, L6).
Although with first-placed Napoli playing bottom-side Rangers, a draw could be enough for Ajax to at least secure third place and a position in the Europa League. Liverpool’s three successive victories in the group mean they only need a solitary point from their last two games to advance and continue Jürgen Klopp’s record of never failing to make the knockouts in his time at the club.
That isn’t a guarantee, however, as just when things were looking up for Liverpool, they turned in a rather toothless performance when going down 1-0 against Nottingham Forest over the weekend.
The Reds will be hoping to channel the performance that saw them beat Rangers 7-1 last time out in Europe, scoring six second-half goals for only the third time in the competition’s history. They have a proud record against Dutch sides too, going unbeaten in their last 16 encounters with clubs from the Netherlands (W11, D5).