Ajax will tackle their latest Champions League campaign with a new manager and a refreshed team in 2022/23 and the Dutch giants face a tricky test against Rangers in Amsterdam in an early Group A appetizer on Wednesday evening.
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Daley Blind will be asked to showcase his versatility again on Wednesday when he fills in at left back for the injured Owen Wijndal, while Calvin Bassey should start at centre-half against his old club.
New Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder hasn’t veered away from Ajax’s tactical traditions, so expect to see de Godenzonen set up with a narrow midfield and wingers either side of Brian Bobbey up front.
Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst must decide whether to mix things up a little following Gers’ dismal 4-0 reverse against Glasgow rivals Celtic at the weekend.
Rangers enjoyed success against PSV with a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 hybrid formation in the Champions League pre-qualifiers and a similar structure could be in the works against another Dutch side on Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, Ajax’s Eredivisie statistics are heavily-padded in their favour, with their goals for (3.20 p/90) and xG against (0.56 p/90) figures particularly eye-catching, though they’d do well to match that output against higher-calibre opposition in the Champions League.
Glasgow derby aside, Rangers have found the going relatively straightforward in Scotland this season, where they have been racking up 18.83 shots per 90. The Gers have also drawn a notably high 3.33 cards against (p/90) for their troubles. They are unlikely to see quite so much of the ball on Wednesday as they normally do however, so don’t expect a similar card count for Ajax.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Steven Bergwijn never really cut the mustard in the Premier League for Tottenham, though the Dutch international has enjoyed being a big fish in a small Eredivisie-sized pond this term, where he has been the line leader at Ajax for shots (1.81) and shots on target (2.87) per 90.
Veteran Serbian Dusan Tadic (0.62 sot p/90) has slipped down the rankings a little this season with his new more withdrawn remit under Alfred Schreuder impacting his threat.
Scott Arfield has been doing some damage for Rangers from the subs bench in 2022/23, though the 33-year-old is expected to be handed another watching brief on Wednesday.
Antonio Colak has been the Gers’ main man in attack, where the Croatian is hitting 4.16 shots per 90. The excellent American Malik Tillman has also been turning heads and his stats reflect the splash he has made since arriving on loan from Bayern Munich.
Player Goals and Assists
Steven Bergwijn hit two of Ajax’s four goals against Cambuur on Saturday, pushing his total for the campaign up to six. Prodigal son, Brian Bobbey, is the next best marksman with two goals, though he has provided two assists compared to Bergwijn’s zero.
Dusan Tadic rattled the net 27 times in his last two Eredivisie seasons combined, though the 33-year-old still hasn’t gotten off the mark in 2022/23.
Antonio Colak touched the ball just ten times against Celtic before he was withdrawn after an hour at the weekend, though the 28-year-old remains the club’s top scorer in the Premiership with four goals.
Right-back and skipper James Tavernier carries a real threat from set plays and the 30-year-old has already found the net via free kicks and penalties this term.
Dusan Tadic features heavily for Ajax in the fouls per 90 (1.67) and cards (2) columns this season, further highlighting his change of role.
Mexican midfielder Edson Alvarez (2 cards) brings steel to the centre of the park, while Jurrien Timber (1.67 fouls p/90) can sometimes be a little over-enthusiastic with his challenges.
Rangers’ dynamo Glen Kamara is always in the thick of the action and the Finnish midfielder has been fouled more often (4.29 p/90) than any of his blue-clad teammates domestically.
Talented winger Ryan Kent (2.94) has quick feet, both of which are regularly tread upon, while defender Borna Barisic can often get into a tangle or two with his marker. His tussle with Dusan Tadic could be an intriguing one, especially given the pair’s nationalities.
Match-Ups to watch
Edson Alvarez vs Glen Kamara
Jurrien Timber vs Ryan Kent
Dusan Tadic vs Borna Barisic
Connor Goldson has been winning bets for cards backers aplenty this season. The Rangers defender has been cautioned four times in six Premiership appearances and on six occasions in all competitions overall.
In midfield, John Lundstram (1.85 fouls p/90) brings a brand of physical football that should ruffle a few feathers in the Ajax ranks, while Antonio Colak knows how to make his presence felt further up the pitch (2 cards).
Like all players with big reputations, Steven Bergwijn (fouled 2.05 p/90) has been drawing plenty of attention in the Eredivisie this season and more than a few defenders have already left their mark on the 24-year-old.
Striker Brian Bobbey (0.57) can be difficult for centre-halves to handle, while midfielder Kenneth Taylor (0.70) knows how to mix it in the middle of the park, where his efforts are often halted illegally.
Match-Ups to watch
Connor Goldson vs Brian Bobbey
John Lundstram vs Kenneth Taylor
Connor Goldson vs Steven Bergwijn
That’s goals, shots, corners and cards all covered for this Champions League clash. If you’re placing a bet builder based on this, it should boost your chances of a win, but please gamble responsibly.
Let me know if you’ve used it, and good luck.