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Sport Preview: Ajax vs Rangers

Ajax vs Rangers – Wednesday 7th, 5:45pm

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After a 10-year absence from Europe’s top club competition, Rangers are back in the big time after beating PSV in the play-off round and their reward is being drawn in the same group as Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax. First up for van Bronckhorst’s men is a difficult trip to the Johan Cruyff Arena, where they square off against an Ajax side who’ve started the season in superb style. 

All eyes will be on Rangers old boy, Calvin Bassey after his £20m summer move. It was a bit of a false start for Bassey getting sent off on his debut in their 5-3 Dutch Super Cup defeat to PSV. Since returning from suspension, he has completed 3 straight games and is really starting to look the part. 

Rangers will hope to get over their previous loss to rivals Celtic 4-0 and that embarrassment should spur on the Gers defence to sit deeper and defend the space in front of them by trying to park the bus and stop the intricate passing and possession style football that Ajax are famous for.

Despite ten Hag poaching both Antony and Martinez from his former club, and with Ajax selling Haller to Dortmund and Tagliafico to Lyon they’ve invested wisely by bringing in Bassey, Bergwijn, Brobbey and Ocampus to fill the voids. One player who didn’t get his dream deadline day move is Edson Alvarez who was all set to sign for Chelsea until things went south and his supposed move fell through, his still thought of in great regard and is a central part of the mechanics of a solid Ajax side.

There are no recent H2Hs to go by, so we have to go back to 1996 to see the last time these two met and it was in a CL group stage where Ajax run out 4-2 aggregate winners. Most of the older Ranger’s fans will remember the two-legged European Super Cup final Of 1973, which saw Ajax lift the trophy winning 6-3 on aggregate.

Key stats

* Rangers have never beaten Ajax

* Ajax 5 straight wins

* Ajax 60%, Rangers 50% BTTS over the last 20 games

* Ajax have scored at least twice in 7 of their last 8 UCL matches

* Ajax 16 goals in 5, Rangers 14 in 6 games

The suggestion is that Ajax will be too strong and will see off a resilient Rangers, but only just 1-0 and it could be a late controversial goal probably from a substitute. As it’s such a tight game I can only see the Under 2.5 Goals coming in and there being plenty of bookings.

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