Champions League

Atalanta v Ajax Champions League preview

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Atalanta will be hoping to maintain their Champions League form as they welcome impressive Ajax to their home ground in the second game of group D.

The Serie A side was ruthless against Danish position, FC Midtjylland, whom they romped 4-0 on their turf, courtesy of a-goal-a-piece from Duvan Zapata, Alejandro Gomez, Luis Muriel, and new signing Aleksey Mirachuk.

This is going to be a pulsating tie against the Dutch team that recently walloped VV Venlo 13-0 in their last outing. So, fans should be looking forward to a high scoring game from teams whose major philosophy is attacking football.

Atalanta has a fantastic debut in the European competition last season becoming the second team after Newcastle United to qualify for the next round despite losing their opening two fixtures. They shocked all bookmakers as they reached the last eight before losing to eventual runners up, Paris Saint-Germain with two goals in two minutes having gone ahead in the tie.

Atalanta home ground, Gewiss Stadium set for Champions League tie against Ajax

However, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side Serie A form has dwindled, losing their last two games and winning the first three. Sampdoria made it three wins from three over the Champions League qualifiers.

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On the other hand, Ajax lost their opening tie to Liverpool hosted at the Johann Cruyff stadium, but showed masterclass, creating multiple chances in attack. They were repelled by Fabinho, who put on a monstrous performance in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.

Atalanta team news ahead of Ajax Champions League tie

Atalanta will be without their centre-back Mattia Caldara, third-choice goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi and defensive midfielder Marten de Roon.

They have been boosted by the return of their first choice goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to the matchday squad after returning from injury.

Marco Sportiello is expected to continue in the starting line up, having started six games in all competitions, keeping one clean sheet thus far.

Rafael Toloi, Berat Djimsiti, and Jose Luis Palomino are expected to be part of a three-man defence while Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens are expected to start on either side of the midfield as the wingbacks.

De Roon, who got injured and subbed off against Sampdoria will be replaced by Ruslan Malinovyski. Remo Freuler could also be among the starters as he is expected to partner the Ukrainian.

Gasperini will expectedly field captain Alejandro Gomez in the hole behind the main striker, Davin Zapata, alongside Josip Ilicic.

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Probable Lineup: (3-4-1-2): Sportiello; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, Mlinovyski, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez; Ilicic, Zapata

Ajax team news

Mohammed Kudus, who has been in great form picked up an injury against Liverpool and is expected to be out for a long time.

Ajax will expectedly field Lassina Traore, who bagged five goals and contributed three assists against Venlo. He is expected to play off the skipper Dusan Tadic, who is expected to start in the attacking midfield role in the 4-2-3-1.

Quincy Promes may take up the slot on the left flank while Anthony Santos, who has also scored four goals and created two assists already in the Eredivisie this season, will undoubtedly retain his spot on the right.

Having made an impressive return to the Netherlands, Davy Klaassen will be seen starting as part of the double pivot, while Ryan Gravenberch partners him in themidfield.

Nicolas Tagliafico and Noussair Mazraoui, who got enough rest last weekend will return to the lineup in the left-back and right-back respectively.

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The duo will complete the four-man backline of Daley Blind and Perr Schuurs while Andre Onana will be the final piece of this puzzle, starting between the posts.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Klaassen, Gravenberch; Santos, Tadic, Promes, Traore

Key Stats

Atalanta produced at least 3.5 goals in their last 6 competitive games this season.

Also, they have seen five of these games end with both teams scoring at least a goal [W4, L2].

Ajax is unbeaten in their last six UCL away games [W3, D3]. Also, the Dutch-side has seen both teams score a goal in five of these six away games.

Duvan Zapata has scored in four of his last six appearances; two of his last were first-half openers.

Lassina Traore is the first player to score five goals for Ajax in a league game since Marvo Van Basten in 1985.

Josip Ilicic will definitely be the star of the day for Atalanta. He is back with the team and he is ready to help his team win against Ajax.
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