Rangers and Ajax have been the weakest teams in Group A by a distance and somewhat fittingly, the sides will end their short Champions League journeys for the campaign against each other at Ibrox Stadium this evening. Ajax enjoyed their only victory in the group at Rangers’ expense on matchday one in early September and though a repeat of that 4-0 drubbing seems unlikely in Glasgow, the Dutch giants are still favourites to prevail.
Below, you can find our stats pack for tonight’s game which is filled with nuggets of info on corners, cards, shots, fouls, xG and more from the sides’ domestic campaigns. Feel free to dig through and take what you need for your bet builders. I’ve got a Stats Pack Guide to assist you in your digging too.
A long long list of absentees for Rangers. Ianis Hagi, Ridvan Yilmaz, Connor Goldson, Ryan Jack, Tom Lawrence and Nnamdi Oforborh are out injured while Filip Helander, Ben Davies and John Souttar are slight doubts. To add to their misery John Lundstram is suspended.
Head Coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst has been sticking to his guns from a tactical perspective in the Champions League despite some rotten results, so expect the Gers to be deployed in a 4-2-3-1 shape again today.
Ajax take a fully fit squad to Glasgow today and bar absent fringe player Mohamed Ihattaren, the Dutch champions have no injuries to report.
Ajax had the weekend off in the Eredivisie and they should be fresh and full of running at Ibrox later as a consequence. They may still rest many of their players given only a 5-0 loss would lose their place in the Europa League.
Alvarez and Timber are at risk of suspension so may sit this one out.
Rangers cantered to a 4-1 win over Aberdeen at the weekend, padding their already excellent Premiership stats across a number of metrics even further, however, their domestic dominance is best ignored today.
In the Champions League, the Gers’ have conceded an eye-watering 19 goals in five group matches. They’ve also been mustering just 7.2 shots per 90, while conceding 19.8 attempts per game at the other end.
Rangers have collected just nine cards in five Champions League fixtures since the summer and it’s safe to assume that their supporters would have appreciated more aggression.
Like Rangers, Ajax have been a cut above in their homeland where they have been topping most attacking metrics in the Eredivisie.
In the Champions League however, Alfred Schreuder’s side have been hitting 45% fewer attempts per 90 (10.4 to 19) and Ajax have been amassing 2.2 cards per game in Europe compared to just 1.36 in the Eredivisie.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Rangers seem to create chances to score at will in Scotland and as a consequence, forward-thinking players like Antonio-Mirko Colak (4.22), Alfredo Morelos (2.6) and Malik Tillman (5.79) all rank well in the shots per 90 stakes.
The same players have struggled to make much of an impact in the Champions League however, though Fashion Sakala has shown flashes of quality in his fleeting appearances. The 25-year-old has been averaging 1.7 attempts per appearance in the competition.
Sakala racked up two attempts at Napoli on matchday five, while Alfredo Morelos mustered three, having drawn a blank on his two previous appearances in the tournament.
Ajax have been hurting teams in the Eredivisie from all over the pitch this season, though Mohammed Kudus (4.49 shots p/90), Brian Brobbey (2.91), Steven Bergwijn (2.67) and Steven Berghuis (3.31) have been among their most-threatening players.
In the Champions League, Kudus, Bergwijn and Berghuis clocked seven shots between them when Ajax beat Rangers 4-0 in September. Berghuis (2.4) and Bergwijn (2.2) rank first and second or average attempts per UCL fixture for Ajax this term overall.
Player Goals and Assists
Antonio-Mirko Colak has been averaging nearly one goal per game in Scotland this season, while skipper James Tavernier has been turning in some superb numbers from right back (4G,5A).
Ryan Kent has matched Tavernier’s assist tally from the wing, though none of the aforementioned players have lodged a goal contribution in five Champions League group fixtures this season.
Scott Arfield’s consolation goal against Liverpool on matchday four remains Rangers’ only strike in the competition.
Brian Brobbey, Steven Bergwijn and Steven Berghuis have chipped in with 20 Eredivisie goals between them this season, which accounts for 52% of Ajax’s total tally for the campaign in the league.
In the Champions League, Bergwijn (two) sits one goal behind best performer Mohammed Kudus (three), while former Rangers’ star Calvin Bassey is tied with Berghuis as the club’s leading assists provider (two each).
Ajax scored 50% of their total Group A goals in one sitting against Rangers on September 7th.
John Lundstram has struggled to get to grips with the quality of opponents he’s faced in the Champions League this season and the midfielder’s frustrations have been evident. The 28-year-old was carded in three of his last four Group A appearances and is suspended tonight.
Right-back James Tavernier could be worth pricing and the Rangers’ skipper has been carded three times domestically and once in the UCL this term.
Centre-half James Sands has been committing more fouls per game (2.30) in the Champions League than any of his blue-clad teammates and the 22-year-old American should come under consideration again this evening.
Steven Bergwijn has been the most fouled player for Ajax in the Eredivisie, and finds himself up against Barisic tonight..
If Dusan Tadic starts he has been targeted more in the Champions League (fouled 1.30 times p/90) than he has in the Eredivisie (0.80) this season and he could be in for some rough treatment again when he faces Tavernier.
Pacey frontman Brian Brobbey will hope to isolate James Sands this evening and the latter’s tackles could draw attention from referee Glenn Nyberg.
Match-Ups to watch
Borna Barisic vs Steven Bergwijn
James Tavernier vs Dusan Tadic/Muhammad Kudus
James Sands vs Brian Brobbey
Hard-nosed Mexican Edson Álvarez is a robust presence in the Ajax midfield and the 25-year-old has been carded four times domestically and twice in the Champions League this term. Álvarez committed three fouls against Rangers when the teams met in Amsterdam in September.
Jurrien Timber (2.0) ranks near the top for average fouls committed per game in the UCL for Ajax and the 21-year-old has been cautioned twice in five starts in the competition.
If either of these two aren’t rested as they will be suspended for their next European encounter if they pick up a booking, I’d keep an eye on them.
Also watch out for former Rangers defender Calvin Bassey when he returns to his old stomping ground on what should be an emotional occasion for the 22-year-old.
Ryan Kent features prominently in the fouled per 90 minutes department in both the Champions League (1.6) and Premiership this season (2.07) and the winger could have his progress curtailed by the squad-rotated Devyne Rensch.
Malik Tillman (fouled 1.30 times p/90) should have Daley Blind in close proximity if he manages to get on the ball between the lines at Ibrox.
Antonio-Mirko Colak (fouled 0.6 times p/90 in UCL) will face a defender desperate to perform in Calvin Bassey and the latter’s determination to shine might affect his judgement at times.
Match-Ups to watch
Daley Blind vs Malik Tillman
Devyne Rensch vs Ryan Kent
Calvin Bassey vs Antonio-Mirko Colak