Ajax vs Benfica | Tuesday 15th March 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Ajax cruised into the first leg in Portugal with the tag of favourites after a seamless first six showings in the Champions League group stages. For Tuesday's return tie, they enter the game at odds of 1.40.
The bookmakers assume that this will be a reasonably comfortable affair for Erik Ten Haag's Ajax, but I'm not so sure. The pride of Amsterdam have been unstoppable at times this season, producing goals aplenty and the performances to match.
However, since the 2-2 draw in Lisbon, a defensive fragility has crept into the side. Post-Benfica, Ajax succumbed to a Go Ahead Eagles outfit to the tune of 2-1. The two matches in the league that followed were both wins, but they made hard work of it.
Two 90th-minute goals were required to down both SC Cambuur and RKC Waalwijk. Both matches ended 3-2 but left a sour taste ahead of the biggest game of the season. Whilst the resilience on display and the ability to work a late winner is impressive, Ajax should be easing past teams of this quality. Put simply, Ten Haag's squad cannot afford a similar performance on Tuesday.
It's difficult to envisage a big European game under the lights with Ajax not muscling in on the scoresheet. With 2+ goals landing in each of Ajax's seven Champions League fixtures and 19/25 Eredivisie matches, backing similar makes sense.
Siding with Ajax to score more than once, but also concede, leads me to the 11/8 price of Ajax to win and BTTS. This selection has landed just once from 13 matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena this term, so I understand the lofty odds attached.
However, Benfica will not go down without a fight. As well as boasting the know-how and experience in the competition, The Eagles have also seen BTTS in 17 of 26 domestic matches.
Away from home in Portugal's top-flight, Benfica are averaging 2.69 goals per90 – more than enough to pull their weight here.
Ajax vs Benfica – Ajax to win and Both Teams To Score (11/8 Bet365)