After suffering a heart-breaking exit from the Champions League on Wednesday at the hands of Spurs, Ajax will need to get back in the right mindset to welcome Utrecht to the Johan Cryuff Arena. Erik ten Hag will really have to galvanize his squad after that 95th minute demoralizing loss to Spurs, as Ajax really do have a job to do, if they are to tie up the Eredivisie. They know that any mistake or slip up will hand the momentum over to PSV and that would be devastating for their season.
The young guns of Ajax really have litten up the European scene with some incredible displays of attacking football against both Real Madrid and Juventus. This fast-flowing intricate has definitely been on display domestically too with Ajax racking up a total of 111 goals in just 32 league matches this season, an incredible average of 3.46 per match. They are currently tied on points with rivals PSV, but with a far superior 10 goal difference, the title is very much in their own hands.
A lot can be said for this Utrecht side, as they too have had a great season, they currently occupy a Europa League play-off spot and a return to European football would be incredible for them. With the pressure more so on Ajax, I think this could allow for them to play a far more open style of play, which could either benefit them or backfire against this potent Ajax attack.
After Wednesday’s heartbreak, Erik ten Hag is expected to name his strongest XI to face his former club. Obviously with their exit from the Champions League, the onus for the rest of their season is firmly on the Eredivisie. He’s expected to revert back to a familiar 4-2-3-1, with Neres returning to the squad, he’s expected to slot straight back into the Left Attacking Midfielder spot. With the usual suspects surrounding him such as Tadic, Van De Beek, Ziyech & Frenkie de Jong; once again, you’d expect Ajax astonishing attack to get amongst the goals against Utrecht.
Dick Advocaat won’t be able to call upon the services of key players Simon Makienok and Emil Bergstrom as both miss the tie through injury, with Oussama Tannane also missing through personal issues. The Dutchman is likely to counter Ajax’s formation by packing the midfield and cutting down any space that the Ajax attackers possess.
A simple glance at the League Table may tell a completely different story to looking at their last three meetings – a win each and a draw. This shows that Utrecht aren’t likely to be pushovers come Sunday and will pose some threat to this title challenge.
Just looking at the sheer amount of goals that both clubs have been involved in this season, you’ve got to start there with the betting. With Over 2.5 Goals priced as low as 1.2, you’d have to go Over 3.5 to get any sort of value at 1.65 – this may be a bit of a tall ask, but a market that I do like the look of at 1.66 is BTTS – Yes.
Utrecht aren’t going to come to the Johan Cryuff Arena and just lie down for Ajax, they’re here to fight for their play-off spot. They’ve been fairly good in front of goal this season, averaging 1.75 goals a match, added to the fact that Ajax will definitely find the scoresheet, BTTS at 1.66 looks great.
If you wanted to take a goal-scorer stance on this match, I like the look of Tadic & Ziyech to find the scoresheet at 1.66 & 1.83 respectively. Both have been in scintillating form this season and both are solid value for more goals come Sunday.
Dusan Tadic to Score Anytime – 1.66
BTTS – Yes – 1.66
Ajax to Win & BTTS – 2.10