Ajax vs Rangers: Preview and Prediction￼
Alfred Schreuder and Ajax will commence their UEFA Champions League 2022-23 season, as they are set to host Glasgow Rangers. Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s men scratched and clawed their way into the group stage of the competition. They beat PSV Eindhoven over two legs and secured their place for the first time since 2010/2011.
The Ajax side who comfortably secured the qualification for Champions League will be missing some key faces in the form of Sebastien Haller, Anthony, Lisandro Martinez and most importantly their former manager, Erik ten Hag. Nevertheless, the Dutch side has shown no signs of a drop-off with their perfect start to the domestic season.
Rangers, on the other hand, are coming off a 4-0 hammering by their bitter rivals Celtic. Van Bronkhorst’s side would certainly feel they’d have a point to prove after the embarrassing Old Firm loss.
As mentioned above, Ajax is coming into this match with a perfect start to its Eredivisie campaign. They started their league campaign with a 2-3 victory over Fortuna Sittard, followed by picking up 3 points against Groningen, Sparta Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Cambuur.
Ajax has lost some key players late in the transfer market, particularly Antony. However, new signing Steven Bergwijn has set the stage on fire scoring 6 goals. The former Tottenham Hotspur man will be their key outlet throughout the match.
The Dutch side had an absolute dream group stage last season as they picked up all possible points from their 6 games. With Liverpool and Napoli being the remaining two in their group, Rangers at home becomes a must-win for Schreuder.
Rangers, on the other hand, had a similar start to their league campaign to their opponents. They beat the likes of Kilmarnock St. Johnstone, Ross County; drew to Hibernian and recently suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders, Celtic.
Likes of Antonio-Mirko Colak with 4 goals, Ryan Kent with 3 assists and James Tavernier have started the season with intent and would be crucial in this tie going forward.
There are a couple of unwanted records that Van Bronckhorst would like to set straight. The first one was a personal one, as against Ajax, in his last 10 meetings he managed to win only two times with Feyenoord. The second one is that the last time Rangers qualified from a Champions League group stage was in the 2005-06 edition of the competition.
Head to Head Record
The last time these two sides met was in July 2007, as Ajax visited Ibrox Stadium for a friendly. The game finished 1-1. The last time these two sides met competitively was in 12 years as both were drawn into the Group A of the 1996/97 edition of the UEFA Champions League. Ajax took the bragging rights on both occasions, with a 0-1 win at Ibrox and a 4-1 thumping at the Johan Cruijff Arena
Availability-wise, for Ajax, Left-back Owen Wijndal is set to miss the game with a knock along with midfielder Mohamed Ihattaren. Former Rangers defender Calvin Bassey who was an integral part of their European run could be set to start against his former club after sealing his record move to Ajax this summer.
It is a long list of injuries on the other hand for Rangers, as the likes of Ben Davies, Filip Helander, Ianis Hagi, Tom Lawrence, Kemar Roofe and John Souttar will miss the trip to Ajax.
Last season’s hero, Alfredo Morelos has had a difficult start to the season with Antonio Colak taking his place in the starting Xl. Expecting the hierarchy to remain the same for this fixture as the Colombian would most probably have to make an impact off the bench.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Ajax (4-3-3): Remko Pasveer; Devyne Rensch, Calvin Bassey, Daley Blind, Jurrien Timber; Davy Klassen, Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis; Dusan Tadic, Brian Brobbey, Steven Bergwijn.
Rangers (4-2-3-1): Jon McLaughlin; James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, James Sands, Borna Barisic; Jack Lundstrum, Steven Davis; Malik Tillman, Glen Kamara, Ryan Kent; Antonio-Mirko Colak.
With all the context coming into this, the fixture should be a treat for the neutrals. As mentioned above, while it’s not technically a must-win, looking at their other fixture this one could decide Ajax’s fate in the group stage. Rangers will be starting on the front foot, all guns blazing, as they would want to make their mark among the elites after 12 long years.
We predict a 3-1 victory for the home side. Rangers’ resilience could prove to be short against the technical gravitas of Ajax.