Roma vs Ajax | Thursday 15th April 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Ajax make the trip south to Italy as they prepare to take on AS Roma, knowing that they have to win to keep their aspirations of European glory alive.
The Stadio Olimpico is a daunting place to visit at the best of times, but it’s downright terrifying when you’re trailing to a side that hasn’t lost any of their last 10 Europa League ties at their home stadium.
We had a nice winner in the first leg with Dusan Tadic to make an assist (9/4) but it was his missed penalty at 1-0 that ultimately proved costly for the Dutch side, with tonight’s hosts scoring twice in the second half to turn the tie on its head.
I Giallorossi will be confident of retaining that lead here too, seeing as they’ve won four Europa League games in a row on home soil, though they will have to do so without Bruno Peres – whose booking last Thursday sees him ruled out for this tie.
It means Rick Karsdorp should deputise in his place at RWB. He’s 9/2 to pick up a card himself; having found himself in the referee’s notebook three times, despite starting just five times in the competition so far.
He’ll have to deal with the likes of Dusan Tadic and Nicolas Tagliafico, who were fouled a combined six times in the reverse fixture.
He’s a player to keep an eye on here, as is Gianluca Mancini (who I mentioned in the first leg preview) though his odds of 15/8 (11/8 shortest) for a card are much less appealing.
It’s not surprising that the price on player cards is a little slim though, with the line for total cards set quite high at 4.5 (4/6) in what is a ‘do-or-die’ game.
I imagine that’s been nudged up slightly by the referee appointment, with the Premier League’s very own Anthony Taylor taking charge of the action in Rome.
Over the last three years he’s given 100 yellows and 11 reds in the 20 games he’s refereed in the Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup.
That’s an almost unbelievable average of 63.75 booking points per game, which is the stat I’d focus on if there wasn’t an even more intriguing one associated with him.
In the five continental club games he’s officiated this season, Taylor has awarded five penalties. The Manchester-based referee isn’t shy when it comes to pointing to the spot, having given two in the two UEL games he took charge of last season too.
The price on a penalty to be awarded (6/4) is hardly exciting, but I’d willing to take my chances on either side scoring a penalty. Dusan Tadic’s miss in the first leg was only Ajax’s second miss from 16 attempts this season, while their opponents have converted nine of their ten attempts this term.
Roma’s designated taker, Jordan Veretout, is six of six from 12 yards – whilst that first leg save by Pau Lopez was Tadic’s only miss of the season.