Category Archives: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Ajax vs. PSG

Ajax open up their 2014-2015 Champions League campaign against the defending French Ligue 1 champions, Paris Saint Germain, this Wednesday night at 20:45 local time writes Alex Pieter.

UCLAjaxPSG

AJAX vs. PSG (19:45 BST)

Both teams are coming off of somewhat disappointing domestic results heading into the match. Ajax struggled for long stretches in an unimpressive 2-1 win over Heracles Almelo, while PSG was held to a draw away at Stade Rennes.  One of the biggest storylines heading into the match Wednesday night is the homecoming of several former Ajax players now playing for PSG, center-back Maxwell, right-back Gregory van der Wiel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. All three should receive a warm welcome from the home fans, particularly fan-favorite van der Wiel, who came up in the Ajax youth system.

PSG is a heavy favourite to go through in Group F, alongside Catalan giants Barcelona. Barcelona will face APOEL Nicosia in the group’s other match.  Ajax played very well in their three Champion’s League home matches a year ago, as they collected 7 points, tallying wins over Celtic and Barcelona while drawing AC Milan. The win against Barcelona particularly resonated within the Ajax squad. Ajax starting midfielder Davy Klaassen has cited the 2-1 victory at the ArenA last year as a reason not to count Ajax out in Group F. Ajax will need more than confidence to get a result against a top PSG side though.

In order to get a point, or three, Ajax will need to play a near flawless match. Something that has not happened this year, as the backline of Ajax has been exposed in the early part of the season. The biggest weakness for the Ajax defence is the lack of pace. The center-back pairing of Niklas Moisander and Joël Veltman has at times looked shaky. The veteran Moisander and the younger Veltman are still trying to find their rhythm together, as Veltman came to Ajax a bit late after taking an extended holiday following the World Cup. The outside backs have also looked vulnerable at times. Ricardo van Rhijn on the right, and Nicolai Boilesen on the left, have each struggled to defend teams with pacy wingers, something they will see a lot of on Wednesday night.

The defending from the Ajax back four will need to be tidy and wholesome, as the forwards for PSG, the likes Ibrahimović, Edison Cavani, and Ezequiel Lavezzi can capitalize on even the slightest mistake.

Meanwhile, Ajax’s attack has looked decent of late. Arek Milik scored a brace in last weekend’s win over Heracles Almelo, making the question of who starts at striker for Ajax on Wednesday a bit more complicated. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson would be the other option at the striker spot for Frank de Boer. However, Sigthorsson has not scored a home goal for Ajax since last February, yet, he has provided some timely goals and played in some big matches during his time at Ajax. Will de Boer go with the hot hand or stick with his gut?

Ajax will feature Davy Klaassen and Nick Viergever in the midfield alongside Lerin Duarte or Thulani Serero. Viergever is the replacement of Daley Blind in the defensive role while Klaassen is looked upon to be the playmaker of the midfielder. Duarte and Serero, both of which could be looked upon by de Boer to round out the midfield, are very different players. Serero is a small, quick, pacy midfielder who can create problems with his runs, while Duarte offers more defensively and is a much more capable tackler. The other option de Boer could go with, is new signing Niki Zimling, who made his debut for Ajax against Heracles. The experienced midfielder could bring some much needed leadership and toughness into the midfield.

Ajax will have to be efficient with their chances. PSG will not gift Ajax any chances, Ajax will have to create for themselves. El Ghazi and Kishna will have to be their creative selfs on the wing, Schöne will have to make the most of his free kicks, and van Rhijn will have to get forward when possible down the right flank, as he is deadly when given the time and space to play in a cross.

The players from Ajax will not back away from this challenge and will embrace it head on. This is a team that, in recent years, has gone to stadiums like Camp Nou and the San Siro, faced off against players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While the competition Ajax will face Wednesday night is much better than what they see on a week-to-week basis in Holland, they will be ready. Ajax will fight valiantly and compete, creating some chances and giving the home fans some hope, but in the end PSG has too much class for a young, rebuilding Ajax squad.

PREDICTION

Ajax 1 -3 PSG Correct Score (13/1 – Bet Victor)

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Besiktas vs. Feyenoord

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WEDNESDAY 6TH AUGUST

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

Besiktas-Feyenoord

BEŞIKTAŞ vs. FEYENOORD (18:30 BST)

The Eredivisie campaign may be a days away but Feyenoord’s season is already underway as the club is bidding to reach the Champions League group stages by overcoming Turkey’s Beşiktaş in the Champions League third round second leg. The Dutch club are facing an uphill task to overcome Slaven Bilic’s men after losing 1-2 in the first leg at the Feijenoord Stadion last Wednesday.

Despite Holland’s successful World Cup campaign, Feyenoord have been the club affected by the national teams success as manager Louis Van Gaal’s defensive trio of Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij have all moved onwards and left the club after some incredible defensive performances to help The Netherlands finish third in the tournament. Fred Rutten has a much larger task in replacing Italian goal-getter Graziano Pellé who left for Southampton in July. In recent weeks, midfield dynamo Jordy Clasie has been linked with moves to Manchester United since Van Gaal has taken over at Old Trafford. Despite the losses of key defenders, Rutten can call upon experienced international defenders in Joris Mathijsen and former-Chelsea defender, Khalid Boulahrouz. Terence Kongolo (the older brother of Manchester City academy player Rodney) is expected to start at left-back as Rutten attempts to overcome last week’s defeat 1-2, and qualify Feyenoord for the group stages for the first time since 2008.

Beşiktaş are looking to reach the group stages of the Champions League with new signing Demba Ba, whose £7million move from Chelsea shocked many in the footballing world including those most loyal to the Turkish outfit. Bilic’s men are looking to withhold Feyenoord’s attacking threat as his side have to defend a one goal lead after Mitchell Te Vrede’s last minute penalty halved the deficit and handed Feyenoord an incentive despite having a two goal advantage.

Demba Ba isn’t the team’s only threat as Dutch-born midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup is making quite a name for himself with some majestic performances both domestically and in Europe for Beşiktaş. Ozyakup’s creative awareness and Demba Ba’s phenomenal goal scoring record will give Feyenoord boss, Fred Rutten, an extra worry in attack as his side will be weary of leaving too much space at the back.

John Guidetti is being heavily linked with a return to Feyenoord, in recent times, after a successful loan spell in 2011/2012 that seen him reach heroic status when the Swede famously scored a hat-trick against bitter rivals, Ajax.

There is no denying that Rutten’s task of overcoming last week’s defeat is going to be extremely difficult when he takes his side to Istanbul and the hostile Inonu stadium. Bilic’s Beşiktaş have become quite a force since the Croatian’s appointment to the hot-seat in 2013. Having previously created an enormous reputation whilst manager of Croatia he has seen his side’s lose only on rare occasions no side will want to face the Turkish outfit should they advance to the group-stages. The current set up in Turkey has seen his side labelled ‘Dortmund Like’ in recent weeks because of their lightening fast build-up play.

Bet Victor are offering 10/1 for a Besiktas 2-0 win and that is my prediction for this one unfortunately. My bias opinion would love to see the Rotterdammers advance to the group-stages of the Champions League but last week’s defeat and the electric pace in the Beşiktaş side, sadly I feel we will probably see the Dutch side crash out in Istanbul.

TIP: Beşiktaş to win 2-0 (10/1 – Bet Victor) – Click here to join Bet Victor and claim up to £25 in free bets!!!

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Feyenoord vs. Besiktas

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WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Feyenoord-Besiktas

FEYENOORD vs. BEŞIKTAŞ (19:00 BST)

Already this match for Feyenoord is the one of the most important of the season, and they go in to battle depleted after a summer of transfers.

After a strong World Cup for the Dutch squad, defensive trio Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij managed to enhance their reputations that earned them moves at Newcastle United, FC Porto and Lazio respectively. However, the big loss to Fred Rutten’s side may be the departure of Graziano Pellè to Southampton. Last season, the big Italian notched 23 goals in 28 games and technical director Martin van Geel has failed to bring a replacement before Wednesday’s clash with Beşiktaş.

The pressure will be on the massive shoulders of young target man Mitchell te Vrede to produce goals. Standing at 6ft 3inches, his build will be a threat to the Turkish defence however, the inexperience of the big game atmosphere may get inside the head of the big forward and the occasion may be too much for him. Although the attacking threats of Jean-Paul Boetius, Lex Immers and Ruben Schaken could take off some of the burden, although the latter is doubtful with a knee problem.

In defence, losing three big names has really hampered Feyenoord’s chances in this game. At right-back, 19-year-old Rick Karsdorp, who normally lines up in midfield, is set to make his first-team debut in this huge encounter. In the centre, Rutten has veteran pairing Joris Mathijsen and Khalid Boulahrouz available for selection with Terence Kongolo also in contention, although the 20 year old may slot in at left back. If Rutten chooses not to play Kongolo, look to Miquel Nelom to sit in the left of defence. The back four will not fill Feyenoord supporters full of confidence and Slaven Bilic’s side will look to attack down Karsdorp’s side.

With finishing third last season in Turkish Süperlig, Beşiktaş should not have qualified for the Champions League and were only granted the slot in place of Fenerbahçe, who were been banned from European competition due to a match-fixing scandal last season. They travel to Holland with new striker Demba Ba in tow. Ba has a phenomenal goal scoring record at all clubs he has represented and will be a huge threat in this game so Rutten will be looking to stop the Senegal international receiving the ball.

Providing him could see Dutch-born attacking midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup and his excellent range of passing looking to thread Ba through on goal.  Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena in the middle of the park will have the job of keeping the former Arsenal man quiet. Up top with Ba could see a partnership with either Cenk Tosun, a celebrated youngster from Gaziantepspor or Mustafa Pektemek, a longtime goal scorer on either side of the Bosphorus strait.

Key to Feyenoord’s plans to defuse Beşiktaş will be dealing with the Turkish team’s flexibility. Bilic may opt to deploy wingers and have former PSV midfielder Atiba Hutchinson play with Özyakup in the centre with Olcay Şahan playing advanced in midfield.

The big question is how can Fred Rutten motivate his team after suffering such losses of quality in their team?  If he succeeds, then young players can enter this contest with some confidence and possibly get themselves a result. However, this is a huge task lining up against the leadership of Slaven Bilic. Bilic has defined Besiktas with a new tactical system, described by Sinan Schwarting of Besiktas-International.com as ‘Dortmund-like.’  With the likes of Şahan, Özyakup, Tosun, Pektemek and Ba closing down the Feyenoord defence, this may be a challenge too far for the under-strength Rotterdammers.

I would love to see a Feyenoord win and watch them progress in the second leg with the lead, but my head says they will struggle to score and I fancy the Turkish side to head back to Istanbul with a slight advantage.

At Bet Victor, Beşiktaş to come away from De Kuip with a win is being offered at massive 5/2, this is our best bet for this Champions League clash.

BEST BET: Beşiktaş to win (5/2 – Bet Victor) – Click here to join Bet Victor and claim up to £25 in free bets!!!

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