Europa League: Lyon v Ajax Preview (2nd Leg)


Our scribe runs the rule over Thursday night's Europa League second-leg semi-final tie between Lyon and Ajax.

This one is interesting. Stereotypically speaking, Ajax should be done and dusted. The odds will reflect the huge task that currently confronts Lyon this week. They were awful in Amsterdam last week, all the more so for the glut of opportunities they missed that could have made this more retrievable. But they are an unpredictable unit that is capable of turning on the style when absolutely necessary. Riding the wave of being a nouveau ‘total footballing’ side, Ajax were ruthlessly efficient and know that they indeed have one foot in the final. Peter Bosz’s side will look to just sit back and counter against a free-flowing Lyon side that won’t be afraid to leave a few gaps next week.

Lyon vs Ajax | Thursday 11 May | Stade des Lumieres | 21:05

To Win (90 Mins)
Lyon 13/20 | Draw 32/10 | Ajax 34/10

Lyon scored three against Nantes this weekend and have certainly not lacked for goals this season. Scoring 71 goals this season, Lyon have been particularly devastating just when you think they are dead and buried. Look at how they dismantled Roma by scoring four against them at home. They have also already played Dutch opposition in this season’s Europa League, beating AZ Alkmaar 11-2 on aggregate. Their free-flowing 4-3-3 formation may be unburdened this week as they seek to right the many wrongs of last week’s performance.

Central to their chances will be the return of Lacazette to the starting line-up. The in-demand French flyer was conspicuous in his absence last week and will look to pull the strings alongside Nabil Fekir. Fekir missed a few glaring opportunities last week and will no doubt be keen to make amends.

Genesio will have no choice but to shake up the side going forward, with Tolisso likely to miss out to facilitate the combination of Fekir and Lacazette.Depay is cup-tied while Mammana will rejoin the heart of defence after serving a suspension last week.This should help give some more cohesion to a side with a real sense of daring-do that could be beneficial to them this week.

When the first leg ended, the average age of the Ajax side on the pitch was 20. This gives some indication to as to the comparisons between Peter Bosz’s side and Louis Van Gaal’s side from 1995. Ajax beat Go Ahead Eagles 4-0 at the weekend, keeping their Eredivisie title chances just about alive. They will be able to welcome their regular defensive line-up this weekend as both Joel Veltman and Nick Viergever return from suspensions. Andre Onana was inspired in between the sticks last week and may have to withstand something of a siege in the early salvos here.

The front three of this Ajax side is where the magic happens. The discipline of the likes of Klaasen and Schone in midfield allows the front three to express themselves. Top scorer Kasper Dolberg has been revelatory this season and don’t be surprised if top European managers don’t see this as a potential try-out between Lacazette and Dolberg for becoming their top transfer target. On-loan Chelsea player Bertrand Traore has grown immensely, and one wonders whether Conte may decide it’s time for him to return at season’s end.

Verdict: Matchbet - Lyon + BTTS Yes - 11/10
Literally, this could be anything. Lyon have been scintillating in Europe at home and could take down a youthful Ajax side that may feel the pinch of pressure this week. Having said that, Ajax could just pick Lyon off on the break.  Also, it may be worth having a crack at Lyon scoring 3+ goals at 5/4. If Lacazette and Fekir are able to steal an early goal, panic could set in for the Dutch side. The cauldron-esque atmosphere of the Stade des Lumieres could be in for something special this week.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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