Group C action in the Champions League sees Ajax welcome Borussia Dortmund to the Johan Cryuff Arena. Both teams have started their new campaign brightly, winning both of their opening two group stage fixtures. Can Ajax continue their free-scoring form this season?
Ajax are placed at the top of the Eredivisie with six wins, one draw and one loss in their previous eight fixtures. They have done so scoring plenty of goals. So far, they have scored thirty goals and conceded only twice in the Eredivisie. Ajax have replicated their free-scoring form in the Champions League as well. In their opening two fixtures, Ajax have scored seven goals and conceded just one. The game against Dortmund will be Erik Ten Hag’s toughest challenge perhaps in the group stages with both teams having equal points tally. Sean Klaiber and Maarten Stekelenburg will remain out for this clash. Ajax striker Sébastien Haller has been on remarkable form this season. He is the top scorer in this season’s UEFA Champions League so far with five goals to his name. Dusan Tadic and Steven Berghuis would also be an instrumental part in Ajax’s attacks.
Ajax are placed at the second spot in terms of goals and goals scored per 90. They have scored five goals in their two games. Dusan Tadic’s performance has played an important part in leading the team upfront. Sebastien Haller’s debut for his team in the Champions League can be regarded as one of the best. The striker scored four times in Ajax’s 5-1 against Sporting in their opening game of the season. He also became the 16th player to score fours goals in a single Champions League fixture. His close-range finishing was the talk of the match.
In their previous game against Besiktas, Ajax dominated the xG battle. Their xG of 2.89 surpassed that of their opponents, 0.38. Besiktas were outmatched in terms of total shots and shots on target. They could only manage total three shots in the entire game, none on target, while Ajax took twenty-two total shots with seven on target.
Borussia Dortmund are placed third in the Bundesliga with five wins and two losses in their opening seven fixtures. They have maintained a perfect home record this season as the international break comes to an end. Going into the match against Ajax, Borussia Dortmund have won four of their last five away Champions League games. In their previous game in the Champions League, Dortmund secured a narrow victory over Sporting Lisbon at home. Donyell Mallen scored the only goal of the match in the absence of Erling Haaland who was unavailable. Dortmund had their captain Marco Reus in the line-up but were missing injured top striker Haaland. They dominated the possession in the match and could have put the game out of Sporting’s reach if he was available. Dortmund also had two of their efforts ruled offside in the second half. The 21-year-old Haaland has a relentless scoring record with Dortmund, hitting 68 goals in 67 appearances so far since joining the Bundesliga outfit from Red Bull Salzburg in 2020. Haaland has missed Dortmund’s last three games due to a muscle injury. He is expected to be fit before Dortmund’s clash against Ajax. Both Gio Reyna and Thorgan Hazard are also expected to make their return to Marco Rose’s side.
Dortmund top the chart in terms of smart passes and smart passes per 90. Despite missing their star player, Haaland, they successfully registered their second win in the group stage against Sporting. Dortmund looked motivated by the return of captain Marco Reus. Jude Bellingham became the youngest player to start in 10 Champions League games at the age of 18 years and 91 days. The young midfielder celebrated the occasion by providing an assist for Malen, who scored through it in the 37th minute.
In terms of successful defensive duels, they are placed third while in terms of successful defensive duels per 90 they stand in fourth place in the league table. So far they have defended well however their defence will be tested against Ajax.
Ajax (4-2-3-1) – Pasveer; Mazraoui, Timber, Martinez, Blind; Alvarez, Gravenberch; Anthony, Berghuis, Tadic; Haller.
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1) – Kobel; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Dahoud, Witsel; Bellingham, Reus, Hazard; Haaland
Both teams are in reasonably good form right now. Borussia Dortmund have come out on top in these two sides’ last encounter in the Champions League, although this time around it will be a close contest. A draw is more likely on the cards.