Who: Ajax vs Chelsea
When: Wednesday, October 23rd @ 12:55pm ET
Line: Ajax +120 | Draw +255 | Chelsea +205
The Chelsea youngsters have been enjoying themselves. They’re dominating oppositions and shoving them aside to record a string of impressive wins after a bloomy start to the season. Now it’s time to tussle with someone their own size (and age) as they enter the lion’s den when visiting a confident AFC Ajax side in the UEFA Champions League.
Ajax have shown no signs of stopping even after losing their prized assets this summer. Erik ten Hag’s boys are putting on classy shows in Europe this season. They’re undefeated in the Eredivisie and dominated their way into topping Group H.
But the young Ajax side face their biggest challenge yet in a surging Chelsea all ready to take the game to them. Frank Lampard’s spirited mentality is mirrored in his young side. They have enough quality to pose real problems for last season’s semi-finalists. This should be an exciting clash of attacking philosophies. Neither side is expected to hold back in a quest for all three points.
AFC Ajax Likely XI
Onana, Dest, Veltmann, Blind, Tagliafico, Martinez, Alvarez, Ziyech, Van de Beek, Neres, Tadic.
Ajax have no injuries currently and a packed squad full of interesting options to trouble the visitors.
Chelsea Likely XI
Kepa, James, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek remains the long-term injury for Chelsea, with Antonio Rudiger also unable to regain fitness so far. Christian Pulisic inspired their win over Newcastle in the weekend, but he’s unlikely to get a start in Europe.
AFC Ajax vs Chelsea Match Preview
Chelsea’s stuttering start to the season collided with their shocking home loss to open their Champions League campaign. However, the hard-fought win at Lille proved they have enough mileage to get out this group.
I think they need a string of wins in order to establish a top-two place for themselves, but doing so at Ajax’s expense is a monumental task. The Dutch giants not only are yet to drop a point: they haven’t even conceded a goal in the Champions League yet.
Indeed, 3-0 wins against Valencia & Lille showed just how above everyone else they are. With quality additions in the summer and inheriting even more wondrous talent from their unmatched academy, there’s a reason to their unbridled dominance.
We here at High Press Soccer have maintained our stance on Ajax winning this group. However, a compelling win over Chelsea will further solidify that. With established stars like Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyechm, Quincy Promes & the bubbly Donny van de Beek marching them forward, Chelsea’s inexperienced defence could be left in sixes & sevens.
Ajax’s stylish “Total Football” style has worked wonders even with a reshuffle in their shape. The squad has a 7.31 WhoScored Rating, proving how effective they’ve been. They’re delightful to watch, as if Ziyech’s 4g, 5a & Tadic’s 6g, 8a proves anything, they’ll be creating a nightmare for the young Chelsea.
Frank Lampard must be super pragmatic with his approach or risk an utter humiliation at the Johan Cruyff Stadium. Ajax are quick and decisive enough to find the loopholes in his system,. This is the English manager’s toughest task yet in his short managerial career.
He must go with a defensive approach, including a stacked defensive line just so that his young defenders aren’t exposed. Kepa Arrizabalaga statistically has some of the worst goalkeeping stats in the Premier League, so he’s not going expected to be a big heroic factor for them.
Lampard needs experience stars like the three-lung N’Golo Kante to run all over & nullify Ajax’s threat. An inspired Jorginho will help bring composure as well as drive Chelsea forward. The Blues have enough quality in Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi & Tammy Abraham to create penetrative moves, but they must take their chances.
Pulisic is always there as his wild-card to bring on later as a potential match-decider, with his electric nature assured to test Ajax’s defence. Lampard should allow his players to be expressive and take the game to the hosts. But he also must maintain a compact defensive shape at all times to stop the game from going out their hands.
Chelsea should give Ajax a run for their money here, but the Dutch side are just too strong at home. I’d say Ajax will win this 2-1 or 3-1 depending on how Lampard’s side approaches the game.