October is just around the corner and so the European draws for various Eredivisie clubs beckon. Ajax can prepare for a new adventure in the Champions League. On October 1, Ajax, which is in Pot 2 of the draw, will know which clubs they will compete against in the group stage of the Billionaire Ball. Time to take stock.
Favorable pot for Ajax
Due to the loss of Benfica against PAOK Saloniki, the team from Amsterdam end up in Pot 2. This means that Ajax is in any case certain that they will not compete against the following clubs:
- Atletico Madrid
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Shakhtar Donetsk
- Borussia Dortmund
A number of teasing ghosts from the past five years will certainly not meet Ajax before the winter break. After all, Manchester United, the club that eventually ran away with the Europa League in 2017 after the 0-2 win over Ajax, is bypassed. Also, Ajax does not have to count on Chelsea, the club where Ajax bizarrely lost a Champions League wintering last season.
Titans to avoid
Pot 1 contains a number of titans that Ajax would prefer to meet after a European winter. Current Champions League champion Bayern Munich is, despite the defeat against Hoffenheim, one of the favorites for the overall victory. A confrontation with Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain would also have to wait until after the group phase. The champions from England and France are still playing very well and are favorites to finish first in their group.
Real Madrid and Juventus also remain feared clubs to compete against. Although the clubs were beaten in the dream season 2018/2019, the team also looked very different at the time. Meanwhile, the talents that radiated that tournament so brightly have left (De Ligt, De Jong, Ziyech and Van de Beek) and Ajax is again playing with a young team that lacks experience. Therefore do not expect that Ajax can again achieve spectacular successes against The old lady in The Royal.
Odds in Pot 1
Without those teasing spirits you can look forward to the other pots with good hope to see what the most favorable combinations are for Ajax. We will of course start in Pot 1, the pot with Bayern Munich, Seville, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg and FC Porto. They are the national champions and Europa League winner (Sevilla) of last season, but that does not say anything about the performances in the Champions League this year.
Despite the fact that Ajax finished first in the aborted Eredivisie season, the club is not eligible for this ‘champion pot’ based on the coefficient list of UEFA. The most favorable scenario for Ajax is to be drawn with a club like FC Porto. The champion of Portugal was eliminated by FK Krasnodar last season – partly due to a goal from Tony Vilhena – in the Third Qualifying Round of the Billionaire Ball In any case, the Portuguese former Champions League winner is not seen as a contender for the overall victory. For that reason, actually every club in Pot 2 will hope for FC Porto as an opponent.
In addition, Ajax will not have a very bad draw with Sevilla. Although Sevilla has won the Europa League, the team is a favorable opponent in comparison with the European Elite clubs. The biggest danger for the Spanish club therefore comes from Luuk de Jong, who has played an important role at Sevilla since his goals in the Europa League final. The length of De Jong in combination with his ball resistance can be a major threat to the Amsterdam defense. With Blind and Schuurs central, there is an excellent wall in the Eredivisie, but that does not bring any guarantee in Europe.
Pot 3 is full of wild cards
Where in Pot 1 Ajax also has a chance to compete against titans in Pot 1, in addition to a number of favorable draws, Pot 3 is a bit more unpredictable. Internazionale, the losing finalist of the Europa League last football year, is one of the names in this Pot. In addition to Inter, Dynamo Kiev, RB Leipzig, Olympiakos, Lazio and Atalanta are also in Pot 3.
Olympiakos is by far the favorable draw for the team from Amsterdam. The Greek team certainly has its qualities, but the competition from the country of Athens is not known for its high level. Compared to the other clubs, Olympiakos is the opponent against whom Ajax simply has the best chance of scoring six points. Dynamo Kiev should also be an option according to this logic. Although the club was sometimes a thorn in the side of Ajax in the past, the Ukrainian club has not yet proven itself as an absolute favorite in its own league. The club is in first place, but has already spilled points in the first four games. The club is also not known for its creative game, while Ajax excels in this and may be able to take advantage of opportunities.
Finally, Lazio Roma and Atalanta Bergamo would on paper also be teams where Ajax can win. In practice, however, this is still the question for the latter club. Atalanta has proven to be able to stunt last season when it comes to reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League. If it had just had a little more stamina against PSG, the semi-finals could even be reached. In that respect, Atalanta is also an unpredictable variable that cannot be stated yet. This year we will see if the club is more than a European one-hit fly.
Nothing decided yet
Finally, there is Pot 4 and a few clubs of which it is still uncertain whether they will end in Pot 3 or 4. After all, Red Bull Salzburg – Maccabi Tel Aviv, FK Krasnodar – PAOK Saloniki and Slavia Prague – FC Midtjylland are still on the program. None of the above clubs should be a major threat to Ajax.
The same can largely be said for the teams that have already been confirmed for Pot 4. We are talking about Club Brugge, Borussia Mönchengladbach, İstanbul Başakşehir, Rennes and Ferencváros. It can be said that the least favorable draw of the teams in this pot is Borussia Mönchengladbach. The German club still plays in one of the best competitions in Europe, although the results so far are unworthy of the Champions League.
Club Brugge would also be an unfortunate draw for football in the Benelux. Not necessarily because Ajax has little chance against the club, but because it is better for football from the Low Countries on the coefficient list if both the Netherlands and Belgium do well. After all, there are still plans for a BeNeLux competition so that the clubs from the Low Countries can participate in European football faster without preliminary rounds.
POLL: Who should definitely not draw Ajax in the Champions League?
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