Europa League: Ajax v Lyon Preview


We preview Wednesday Night's Europa League first leg semi-final between Ajax and Lyon.

So here we are at the business end of the diet-coke trophy in European football. Having said all that, this year’s edition of the Europa League has been rather exciting. It seems as if sides are realising the virtual stranglehold that the European monoliths have on the Champions League make this a far more attractive proposition. And in this match we have two exciting, youthful sides coming up against one another. Ajax disappointingly lost direct ground to Feyenoord with a 1-0 loss at the weekend. Peter Bosz’ side are unbeaten at home in this competition and will feel confident this week. Lyon are perhaps one of the most unpredictable sides in European football, although they did manage a tough 2-1 away victory over Angers this week with a depleted squad.

Ajax Amsterdam v Lyon | Amsterdam Arena | Wednesday 3 May | 18:45

To Win (90 Mins)
Ajax 5/4 | Draw 5/2 | Lyon 39/20

Peter Bosz will be faced with some defensive headaches this week - though they pale in comparison to those facing a certain taciturn Portuguese manager. Joel Veltman was shown a staright red card in the last match and is ineligible. Nick Viergever picked up his third yellow card as well, meaning Ajax will be without their regular full-backs this week. This will likely mean that Kenny Tete and Jairo Reidewald will come into the starting line-up this week.

Their real shining light this season has been Kasper Dolberg. The young Dane has scored 19 goals whilst also picking up eight assists. His youthful exuberance and ability to link up with Bertrand Traore has been a key attribute to their success this season. Traore will need to be careful as he sits on a potential yellow card suspension. Their 4-3-3 system allows the likes of Schone and Klaasen to continuously interlink and overlap, allowing a fairly fluid system reminiscent of the ‘total football’ that the Dutch were so touted for.

Bruno Genesio has one huge headache on his hands this week. Star striker Alexander Lacazette is set to miss out this week. This will be a huge blow as Lacazette has really been one of the most potent strikers in European football this season. Furthermore, Memphis Depay is cup-tied, meaning that their striking options are limited. Emmanuel Mammana is also set to miss out due to injury.  So Genesio has not really had the ideal preparation going into what will be a crucial tie.

Lyon will need Corentin Tolisso to shake off any injury he may have. Mathieu Valbuena is going to need to step up and be counted this week. The wildly inconsistent French winger has often flirted with brilliance but needs to produce in the absence of Lacazette and Depay. Cornet and Fekir provide pace and movement for Lyon and will feel confident going up against the 2nd choice full-backs of Ajax. These two clubs have met four times before in European competition - all in the Champions’ League group stages. Ajax have never lost, drawing twice and winning twice.

Verdict: Ajax 5/4
These odds don’t look that bad at all considering the fact that they look a sure thing to me. The absence of Lacazette - coupled with Ajax’s tremendous home form - should see Ajax comfortably win.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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