Manuel Veth –
AEK vs Ajax – Tuesday, November 27, 17:55GMT/18:55CET – OAKA Spyros Louis, Athens, Greece
It has been tough going for AEK in the 2018/19 Champions League campaign although Athens can still overtake Benfica but need to get to within three points of the Portuguese club before they face off in Lisbon on matchday six.
Overall, however, it has been rough going for the 2018 Greek champions. AEK won the championship in Greece in dramatic fashion last year but since then have struggled to repeat their success.
Just seventh in the Greek Superleague AEK are already 12 points behind PAOK. On matchday 11 AEK lost 2-1 to Panetolikos on Saturday. That result, put the Énosis into crisis mode as had coach Marinos Ouzounidis needs a positive result to get his team back on track.
Whether that will happen against Ajax, however, is questionable. The Dutch record champions have been in stellar for in the UEFA Champions League.
Unbeaten in the competition Ajax sit second in the standings, their 3-0 matchday one win against the Greek side – achieved thanks to second-half goals from Nicolás Tagliafico (2) and Donny van de Beek – was the first of four defeats for AEK, who can no longer finish in the top two.
Ajax, who hold a four-point advantage over third-placed Benfica, will be through to the round of 16 for the first time in 13 years with a victory or if Benfica fail to win away to section leaders Bayern München.
Domestically, things have been a bit more difficult, however. Ajax are second in the standings five points behind current champions PSV. At the same time, Ajax have won their last seven games in the Eredivisie and on current form should easily collect the three points on the road in Greece.
AEK vs Ajax – Players to look out for:
Ezequiel Ponce #22 – AEK Athens
On loan from Roma Ezequiel Ponce had a great start at AEK. The 21-year-old Argentine striker has already scored two goals in three Greek Super League matches this season. Signed by Roma from Newell’s Old Boys in 2015 Ponce is already on his third loan spell and the Italian side hope that Champions League football will provide Ponce with the next stage in his development.
David Neres #7 – Ajax
David Neres is one of the most sought-after talents in European football. In September David Neres told De Telegraaf that Borussia Dortmund were willing to spend €33 million for the talented Brazilian forward. Ajax, however, turned the offer down but there is no doubt that the Brazilian will continue to stay in the focus of top European clubs. After all, Neres scored 14 goals and 13 assists in 32 Eredivisie games for Ajax last season.
AEK vs Ajax – Match Stats
- The sides’ only fixtures before this season came in the group stage of Ajax’s victorious 1994/95 UEFA Champions League campaign.
- The Dutch side won both fixtures, recording a 2-1 away victory in September 1994 and a 2-0 win in Amsterdam in December.
- The Athens clubs have won only one of their last eight home European fixtures (D5 L2).
- AEK were 14 European games unbeaten (W4 D10), home and away, before the loss at Ajax.
- AEK have lost seven of their nine matches against Dutch clubs, winning one and drawing one; matchday one was their third successive defeat, all without scoring. At home, their record is W1 D1 L2.
- However, Ajax are unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19 – a run of ten matches. Before the group stage, they beat Sturm Graz home (2-0) and away (3-1) in the second qualifying round and Standard Liège 5-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round (2-2 away, 3-0 home) before overcoming Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 in the play-offs (3-1 home, 0-0 away).
- Ajax have not won away in the UEFA Champions League group stage since a 2-0 success at Dinamo Zagreb in October 2011; their subsequent record is D6 L6.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: AEK vs Ajax – 0-3
AEK vs Ajax – Lineups
Barkas – Hult, Cosic, Lampropoulos, Bakakis – André Simoes, Alef – Mantalos, Livaja Bakasetas – Ponce
Head Coach: Marinos Ouzounidis
Onana – Tagliafico, Blind, de Ligt, Mazraoui – de Jong, van de Beek, Schöne – Tadić, Huntelaar, Neres
Head Coach: Erik ten Hag
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.