Ajax vs Liverpool | Wednesday 21st September 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Two of the semi-finalists from the 2018-19 Champions League have been pitted together in Group D for this season’s group stage and it looks like one of the more attractive and intriguing quartets which is completed by Atalanta and Midtjylland.
That Ajax team that blew most before them in 18-19 have predictably been shipped off to bigger and better things but there’s a new roster of talented youngsters coming through in Amsterdam. The likes of Ryan Gravenberch, Perr Schurrs, Antony, Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez are some of the next bunch who could make their own name in this competition.
Having said that, it’s a team that is relatively unproven on the European stage. Dusan Tadic, Andre Onana, Daley Blind and Nicolas Tagliafico may remain at the club but they’ve not set the world alight in the Eredivisie thus far.
De Godenzonen racked up a 5-1 win over Heerenveen on Sunday but the scoreline flattered them for sure. Two penalties helped their cause, one of which was a dubious handball, but apart from that the xG battle was neck and neck. They’d scraped by Vitesse and Sparta Rotterdam and lost at Groningen before the winter break so you can question if they’re anywhere close to Liverpool’s level at this moment in time.
Speaking of Groningen, that was the club where current Liverpool centre-half Virgil Van Dijk started his senior career. It was a crushing blow to Jurgen Klopp to lose him to a possible season-ending injury in the Merseyside derby, he was clearly a huge part of their title win last season and it looks like Fabinho will have to take that mantle, something I’m positive he can have a good go at.
Thankfully for Klopp he know has Thiago to play that holding role, and although different in terms of style to Fabinho, he is probably one of the top five players in the world in that role.
The betting angles
This looks a really tricky one to extract too much value from. Liverpool aren’t wholly convincing on the road but I do think their odds-on quotes are merited. The goal line is set at a high 3.5 and that’s also understandable given Ajax’s approach and Liverpool being without VVD and possibly Allison in goal. I’ll head to the props market though and put up two player shot angles.
Firstly, it’s a bet that has paid out time and again in the last year or so and it’s still available to back at a decent enough price. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a key attacking weapon in this Reds side and his dead ball quality means he’s always good for a pop from distance.
Coral and Ladbrokes both have their own individual player stat markets where you can manufacture your own bet and you can get 3/1 on TAA attempting two or more shots from outside the 18 yard box, and that appeals. It landed at the weekend and it’s landed in the three league games before that, in the match against Chelsea he actually managed three so the 3/1 on offer for 2+ just looks way too big.
I’m also happy to focus on an Ajax player and it’s their new star, Mohammed Kudus. Ajax brought the 20 year old Ghanian from Nordsjaelland in Denmark, it’s a club that has a close connection to the ‘Right To Dream’ academy, based on his native River Volta. It’s a clever way of recruiting some of the best African talent that they then give a chance to shine in a competitive league before selling to bigger European clubs for profit, it works well for all involved.
Anyway, he has been the shining light fro Ajax this season and picked up the man of the match award at the weekend and already has three assist and a goal to his name. He is also averaging the most shots for the Dutch side (2.7) and will be eager to make his mark against one of the best teams on the planet. Ajax are missing Brazilian Antony so Kudus may be relied upon to get even more shots off and trouble what is likely to be Adrian in the Liverpool goal.
Betfair go 10/11 for Kudus to attempt two or more shots in the match and considering his stats and that looks a nice price, the same bet is 1/2 elsewhere.