CELTIC look to reignite their season when they travel to Amsterdam to take on Celtic. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the odds.
Ajax v Celtic | Thursday 18:00 | BT Sport 2
Pass the hankies round, there won’t be much happiness kicking round the Amsterdam Arena on Thursday night as Ajax host Celtic. This is the first time in six seasons that neither of these great clubs have taking part in the Champions League group stage. The manner of both their eliminations will still hurt.
Ajax were cruising in their Third Qualifying Round tie with Rapid Vienna. 2-0 up in the first leg in Austria at half-time, they must have already been thinking about the play-off round, but sadly for them it fell apart. Rapid scored two in the second half to grab a 2-2 home draw and the week later won 3-2 in Amsterdam to go through. Devastating for Ajax.
Celtic themselves had to stem the tears after they found things too tough against Swedish champions Malmo in the play-off round. A 2-0 second leg defeat in Sweden meant a 4-3 aggregate loss and elimination.
Ajax have come back from that disappointment to start the new Eredivisie season well. Four wins and a draw from their five matches bodes well and you can imagine them re-focussing with determination on this competition.
Celtic have won five of their seven league matches this season but above them hangs a cloud. The Malmo defeat hit the club hard and two successive years out of the Champions League group stages is not something they’re used to.
On top of this they’re (for now) being seriously challenged domestically. Rivals Aberdeen are now five points clear of them after Celtic lost at Pittodrie on Saturday. It’s all a bit disorientating.
When you consider Celtic’s away form in Europe the problems just get bigger. Take out the soft Champions League Second Qualifying Round matches and the Glasgow side ‘boast’ an away record in Europe of P12 W0 D5 L7 since 2013/14. How can you back them here?
One of those defeats came in Amsterdam in 2013 and Ajax beat Barcelona at home in the same group. Frank De Boer’s club also comfortably knocked out Legia Warsaw in last season’s Europa League, a team that embarrassed Celtic earlier in that European campaign and beat the eventual runners-up Dnipro in one of their matches. I’ll keep it simple and have a confident bet on Ajax at odds of 5/6 with Bet365 this Thursday.
Ajax v Celtic – Ajax to win (5/6 Bet365)
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