Category Archives: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Pressure on Bosz as Ajax fall in Russia

Four-time European Cup winners, Ajax failed to advance to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second year in succession after being humiliated in remarkable fashion by Russian underdogs, FC Rostov reports Steven Davies.

Image result for rostov 4-1 ajax




Following a calamitous home defeat at the hands of Willem II in which most of the Ajax backline was culpable, under fire coach, Peter Bosz shuffled his defence for a second leg that, according to many in the Dutch media, carried with it more than just qualification for the group stages of European club football’s richest prize.

The most surprising selection came between the posts for the visitors where, despite a big money switch to Barcelona being in the offing, Dutch international ‘keeper, Jasper Cillessen returned at the expense of Andre Onana – the 20-year-old stopper having made his first team debut against Willem II on Saturday. Meanwhile, a series of high profile errors in the same game resulted in Columbian centre half, Davinson Sanchez being dropped and Dutch international, Joel Veltman reverting to centre half with both Kenny Tete and Nick Viergever filling the full back roles as the injured Mitchell Dijks was also ruled out.

Having come back from the brink of bankruptcy while also surviving a relegation playoff fifteen months previously to the verge of not only winning the Russian league title last term but now reaching the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, FC Rostov entered the second leg of the tie with the Amsterdam giants holding a slight advantage by virtue of Ecuadorian international, Christian Noboa’s away goal in the 1-1 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA just over a week ago.

A solid defence had been the bedrock of the unfancied Russian outfit’s success under previous coach, Kurban Berdyev and Rostov’s caretaker coach, Dmitri Kirichenko, having continued with his predecessor’s defensive philosophy in Amsterdam, appeared intent on strangling the tie here as well.

Yet, despite their defensive stance it was the Russians who came out of the blocks the quicker with the first clean cut opportunity of the game falling to Aleksandr Erokhin who, having latched onto a through ball, out muscled Jairo Riedewald before being denied by Cillessen – who stayed tall to deny the striker with 9 minutes gone.

Ajax did rouse from their slumber shortly thereafter as Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore lifted an effort over the bar from the edge of the six yard box after Nemanja Gudelj had seen his shot charged down with 19 minutes on the clock.

Rostov however, would continue to take it to their illustrious visitors and when Iranian, Sardar Azmoun latched onto a cross from the right with a towering header, Jasper Cillessen was left rooted to the spot as the Russians took the tie by the scruff of the neck going into the half time interval.

Any thought of an Ajax comeback was dashed within minutes of the resumption of play as a free kick from Timofei Kalachev was met by Erokhin who made no mistake with a close range header that put the Russians 2-0 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate after 52 minutes.

But, if Peter Bosz entered the game under pressure, what followed would have set alarm bells ringing at De Toekomst.

Eight minutes later, a game of ping pong in the Ajax area eventually saw the ball land at the feet of Ecuadorian, Noboa who – having opened the scoring in the tie just over a week ago in Amsterdam – stabbed the ball past a helpless Cillessen from close range to effectively seal the tie with half an hour remaining.

But a humiliating night was to get even worse for the former European powerhouse, when, six minutes later, an Ajax attack broke down and turned into a swift Rostov counter attack with Erokhin beating a number of Ajax players before putting in Dmitriy Poloz who beat the Ajax offside trap before calmly rounding Cillessen to make it 4-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.

Ajax offered little by way of resistance throughout the contest – often being caught in possession and creating few real goal scoring opportunities.

Having drug his side through recent indifferent performances, Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen was as anonymous as the rest of his team mates on a miserable night for de Godenzonen but did manage to get the Dutch side on the scoresheet from the penalty spot after substitute, Kasper Dolberg was brought down in the Rostov area by Fyodor Kudryashov – who was then shown the red card with seven minutes remaining.

However, it proved little more than a consolation for Peter Bosz whose position as Ajax coach is becoming increasingly untenable as the four time European Cup winners – already playing catch up in the Eredivisie standings – were embarrassingly dumped out of qualifying for European club football’s richest prize for a second year in succession.

Man of the Match: Bertrand Traore


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Russians frustrate Ajax Euro ambitions

Another strike by inspirational skipper, Davy Klaassen wasn’t quite enough for Ajax who endured another night of frustration in European club competition as Russian under dogs, Rostov moved into the second leg their UEFA Champions League Playoff with the Dutch giants holding a slight advantage off the back of an early away goal by Ecuadorian international, Christian Noboa reports Steven Davies.




Following the disappointment of dropping two points in the dying moments of Saturday’s visit of Roda, Ajax coach, Peter Bosz shuffled his pack ahead of the visit the Russian outfit – giving Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore his first start for de Godenzonen while also drafting in German wide man, Amin Younes along with Dutch international, Joel Veltman with Saturday’s two-goal hero, Kasper Dolberg, Kenny Tete and Daley Sinkgraven making way.

In spite of having four European Cup triumphs to their name, Ajax came into the tie in the unusual position of having never managed to best Russian opposition in any European club competition and, in spite of having the majority of the ball throughout the contest, the Amsterdammers found chances hard to come by with the Rostov back five keeping time and space for the attacking trio of El Ghazi, Traore and Younes to a minimum.

Despite their surprising victory over Anderlecht two weeks ago having secured some form of European group stage football for the first time in the club’s history and having finished as runners up in last season’s RFPL standings, Rostov came into the tie at the Amsterdam ArenA in chequered form with just four points from their opening three league games. The visitors also arrived in the Netherlands in the midst of a period of transition under the caretaker charge of former Rostov and Russian international striker, Dmitri Kirichenko – who took up the coaching reins following the departure of the Spartak Moscow-bound, Kurban Berdyev.

However, it was the Russians who, against the run of play, took the lead with their first meaningful attempt on goal through a Christian Noboa free kick from just outside the area – the curling effort wrong-footing Ajax ‘keeper, Jasper Cillessen.

As the half wore on, Ajax’s wide men gradually found more space in which to work and Anwar El Ghazi in particular carved out a number of tantalising crosses that his colleagues were frustratingly unable to capitalise upon – the Dutchman continuously terrorising Rostov’s left wing-back, Denis Terentjev throughout the match.

Yet it took until the half hour mark for Ajax’s first real clean cut opportunity to materialise – Burkina Faso international, Traore having slipped free of the shackles of his marker, dropped the shoulder and burned two defenders before seeing his shot saved by Soslan Dzhanaev’s legs – Rostov’s star man also parrying the follow up from Younes just seconds later.

Then, with 37 minutes having elapsed and the home side in firm control, Younes squared the ball across the area for Bazoer whose shot was handled by Rostov centre half, Cesar Navas, leaving the referee little option but to point to the spot – Davy Klaassen, the hero of Thessaloniki, converting the spot kick with little fuss for his fourth goal of the season in all competitions.

Having notched 14 efforts on goal in the first half alone, the home side began the second stanza where they had ended the first – on the front foot with Traore forcing Dzhanaev into a spectacular point blank save from a header after latching on to another dangerous El Ghazi cross on 54 minutes, while Nemanja Gudelj also worked the Rostov glovesman with a long range effort which Dzhanaev did well to tip over the bar in the 68th minute.

Yet, the home side found their Russian counterparts in resolute mood with chances few and far between in the second period despite the home side monopolizing over 70% of the ball throughout the course of the encounter, leaving Ajax coach, Peter Bosz with more questions than answers ahead of next week’s second leg in Rostov-on-Don.

Man of the Match: Anwar El Ghazi



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Russian Football News‘s Martin Lowe is here to tell all Ajax’s fans what to expect from Rostov this Tuesday night.

Rostov’s victory in Brussels two weeks ago over Anderlecht ensured European group stage football for the first time in the club’s history, with a tantalising caveat of an opportunity that it could be in the Champions League rather than the Europa League many predicted if they prove successful in the playoff round. While some hoped for a glamour tie against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, the end result could prove the most fruitful in their hopes of progression after being paired with a below-par Ajax side, who’ve been going through a recent rough patch.

Since that high point at the beginning of August however, nothing has gone straight forward for last season’s RFPL surprise package. Days after their historic victory, influential coach Kurban Berdyev quit his role in the dugout, a decision that had been coming for the past 6 months after disputes with the club’s hierarchy, but nonetheless is a hammer blow to the club’s immediate future. This was followed by a substandard home season opener against Ural, which ended goalless, before defeat this weekend just gone away in St. Petersburg to Zenit, where they let go an early 2-0 lead.

Worries going forward concern further exits, with a number of the “Berdyev contingent” set to jump ship to join their coach at his new club Spartak Moscow. Rostov’s player of the night in Brussels Sardar Azmoun alongside Ecuadorian midfielder Christan Noboa, who made similar moves alongside Berdyev from Rubin to Rostov in the last two years are muted to be treading the same path of their Turkmenistani mentor once again.

To say Rostov are a side in transition would be an understatement, given that we’re only three games into the domestic season makes the situation ever more unstable. Former Rostov and national team striker Dmitri Kirichenko has taken over initially in the dugout while the Selmashi consider a full time appointment. A money spinning passage through to the Champions League group stages will do his case of taking over on a permanent basis the world of good. Or at least we thought so. Monday afternoon, Rostov announced that they had brought back Berdyev as an consultant, meaning he’s likely to be on the sideline when the game kicks off.


Aside to the pressure domestically which comes with such a lofty finish last season, Rostov’s cautious tactics have and will work wonders in Europe, where they will again be considered underdogs. Again they’ll aim to soak up possession before looking to hit the opposition on the counter attack, an approach that was fully utilised this weekend in their second goal against Zenit.


Sardar Azmoun – The star man across their qualifying round with Anderlecht, especially in Brussels where he led the line brilliantly on the counter, is a pivotal figure once again but question marks continue to swirl around his future. While interest from Western Europe has cooled for the moment, after his red card against Ural and his subsequent suspension, Berdyev’s exit has generated murmurs that the Iranian striker will follow him to Moscow.

If Azmoun is unfavoured, or sold on in the meantime, Denis Poloz has proved he can comfortably fill in, as he did this last weekend netting an early brace in the capital.

Cesar Navas – Another player loyal to Berdyev in the past, the Spaniard is a key figure in the centre of Rostov’s three man defence. His European pedigree picked up while playing with Rubin Kazan will prove invaluable once more, given the lack of experience in the squad and now dugout.


Heading to Amsterdam for the first leg, it’ll be a much tougher ask for Rostov than it was two weeks ago given the changing landscape at the club. What they do have in their favour however is an opposition out of form and the knowledge they have the home leg still to come.

It won’t be a surprise to see Rostov surrender a large portion of possession to the Dutch side, but if they can keep the deficit down, and look for an away goal on the counter, they’ll be more than confident returning home for the second leg.

Prediction: Ajax 2-1 Rostov


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Davy’s double helps Ajax prevail and clinch playoff place

A double from Ajax captain, Davy Klaassen saw Ajax squeeze past PAOK and into the next round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League – beating the Greek side 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate reports Steven Davies.





(Ajax wins 3-2 on aggregate)

Playing an, at times, awkward 3-5-2 formation, Ajax found themselves with a proverbial mountain to climb after only four minutes when Stefanos Athanasiadis lost Heiko Westermann on the back post and beat Jasper Cillessen to put the Greek side ahead both on the night and in the tie overall following a 1-1 draw between the two sides in Amsterdam just over a week ago.


Faced with both the inhospitable temperatures in Thessaloniki and hostile atmosphere inside the Stadio Toumbas, the Ajax back three just could not come to grips with the illusive Athanasiadis who was denied by Cillessen on several occasions including a fantastic point black stop and a one-on-one between the two which the PAOK goal-scorer failed to convert inside the opening half hour.

Ajax built up a healthy advantage in terms of possession as the half wore on but could not convert their possession into clear cut chances while PAOK’s swift counter attacking through the evasive Garry Rodrigues found the Ajax backline turned inside out on more than one occasion with only Dutch international, Cillessen’s reflexes keeping the Amsterdam giants in the tie.

Ajax’s first real opportunity arrived at the feet of Cassierra after some deft control from a Dijks cross from the left found the new signing with the goal at his mercy – yet a stumble from the Colombian allowed PAOK ‘keeper, Glykos to recover.

It appeared that the tie was slipping away from the four-time European Cup winners until Viergever was brought down by Croatian defender, Marin Leovac in the PAOK box following an Ajax free kick from the right as the clock ticked into added time at the end of the first half.

Davy Klaassen duly dispatched the resultant spot kick to claw Peter Bosz and his men somewhat undeservedly back into the tie and in the process nullify the away goal the Greeks had bagged in Amsterdam.

A largely uneventful second stanza saw a slew of yellow cards and few opportunities – the majority of which fell to the home side.

A Tzavellas free kick on 53 minutes tested Cillessen’s reflexes and a looping header from PAOK substitute, Mystakidis rattled the Ajax’s keeper’s crossbar as the game entered the final quarter hour.

Yet, try as they might, the Greeks found de Godenzonen in resilient mood and, with the away side’s only opportunity of the half, a cross from the left found substitute Anwar El Ghazi whose cushioned header fell perfectly for Ajax skipper, Klaassen who duly drilled home to put the Amsterdammers ahead for the first time in the tie – the Dutch international’s strike ultimately proving enough to put the European giants into the next round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

Man of the Match: Jasper Cillessen


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This article is produced in association with HeaderBlue

Ajax have barely got themselves back into training and they have the challenge of Greek Superleague runners-up PAOK Salonika in the third qualification stage of the Champions League. Looking for real value in the betting markets, Will Burns thinks the Amsterdammers will win, but with a struggle.


Tuesday 26th July 2016 – 19:45BST



Tuesday night sees Peter Bosz first competitive match as Ajax manager as he control the reins that Frank de Boer left behind at the end of the season. A season which the Amsterdam giants saw PSV pip them to the title on the last day of the season, as Ajax failed to overcome De Graafschap while PSV dispatched PEC Zwolle. A result which placed the final nail in De Boer’s coffin as he resigned immediately.

It’s a new beginning in Amsterdam and although the players are virtually the same with only two summer additions, it’s a fresh start for Bosz, who we last saw in Holland managing Vitesse Arnhem. He will have get his players to adapt to his high pressure style of football as soon as possible. In regards to player changes: right-back Ricardo van Rhijn has departed for Club Brugge and fellow defender Mike van der Hoorn joined Swansea City, in return Bosz has added experienced German defender Heiko Westermann to the ranks from Real Betis and Mateo Cassierra, a 19-year-old Colombian striker from Deportivo Cali signed on the dotted line for €5.5m.

For PAOK FC themselves are experiencing the effects of change in management as Vladimir Ivić only took over from Igor Tudor back in March. They head into Tuesday’s game like Ajax, with this being their first competitive game since the end of last season. These two sides have met only twice before, again a two-legged affair in the UEFA Champions League qualifying back in 2010/11 which produced two draws and saw the Greeks prevail on the away goal rule. Coach Ivić, a former player of the club, scored twice in the legs versus the Amsterdammers.

While looking at the betting, Ajax are very short at 1.65 (with Ladbrokes) so I am avoiding this even though I think they are the most likely winners of this match. PAOK will set-up in a tight 4-3-3 formation which Ajax may find tough to break down so they may look to the counter as a weapon. I see this being a cautious game for Bosz’s side with a high defensive line, Ajax will be looking to hold off the Greeks and keep a clean sheet for the return leg next week. However, this is Ajax’s home leg and they need at least a goal, this may open then up at the back and concede as the young and old pairing of Jairo Riedewald (19) and Westermann (32) may need time to gel with each other.

I envisage Ajax scoring with ease as Anwar El Ghazi, Davy Klaassen, Amin Younes and Lasse Schone, all vying to start, are all capable of filling the opponents goal. Ajax to win with Both Teams to Score is our most value tip priced up at 333/100 at William Hill and if this is land then Over 2.5 Goals is worth a bet at 5/4 with BetBright. I would advise to go small on a Ajax 2-1 win also, best priced with Bet365 at 9/1.


Ajax to win with Both Teams to Score (4.33 at William Hill)

Over 2.5 Goals (2.25 at BetBright)

Correct Score: Ajax 2-1 PAOK Salonika (10.00 at Bet365)


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PSV spoil Memphis’ return to Eindhoven






It was a night marred with a horrendous injury to Luke Shaw, but PSV will treat this as a night to remember, a great return to the Champions League with an unlikely victory against Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United writes Will Burns.

As the teams emerged this evening, the atmosphere was electric and for good reason. The Philips Stadion had not seen Champions League football since the 2008/09 season when current head coach Philip Cocu was actually on the pitch at that time for PSV. This time he was leading from the sideline and grabbed a vital victory in Group B of the Champions League.

With Memphis Depay returning ‘home’ of sorts, Louis van Gaal handed a first start to £58m man Anthony Martial in the lone striker role for the Manchester United. The Red Devils came out with a high press, especially on Andrés Guardado, hustling the midfielder from the off. The match failed to get going and the visitors were forced make an early change after quarter of an hour when Luke Shaw suffered a suspected broken leg.

The left-back was moving at pace and made a great run into the PSV area, he was then met head-on with a strong challenge from Hector Moreno. The Mexican defender immediately moved away from the area looking distressed which explained to all it was a bad one. Shaw was replaced by Argentine international Marcos Rojo after a six minute delay to comfortably remove the England defender from the pitch. No booking, no penalty, no foul was given by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli – Moreno left his feet in the challenge and was lucky to still be on the pitch.

The compassionated fans applauded Shaw off and the minutes surrounding the injury gave the stadium a real subdued feel. Once the game got going again, PSV pressed dangerously with the speed of Luciano Narsingh and Maxime Lestienne causing some trouble but the flag of the linesman was raised more than often halting the play.

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Although the game was playing at a good tempo, we had to wait 38 minutes for our first chance as Chris Smalling nodded wide from a Juan Mata free-kick. In the second chance of the game, three minutes later, we had the opening goal. Daley Blind sliding in former PSV favourite Depay, whom overpowered Santiago Arias, slipping his challenge with great footwork and slotted home with a goal that the attendance has seen time and time before.

The former PSV hero could have grabbed his second just a minute later. Mata gifted Depay a ball which sent the winger wide and subsequently dragged his shot the wrong side of Zoet’s post. The hosts were on the ropes and Smalling, somehow found himself through on goal and forced a strong stop from Zoet to keep the score at 1-0.

The lead only lasted six minutes as Cocu’s men grabbed a fortunate equaliser on 47 minutes. Lestienne with a whipping corner and defender Moreno easily rose over Matteo Darmain and the Mexican’s effort skimmed off Blind’s head to nestle into the net.

The second half began an even contest with both sides using swift attacks to build chances but neither goalkeeper were trouble initially before Narsingh gave David de Gea no chance with PSV’s second goal.

As they threatened in the first half, PSV’s famous counter attacking football gained them the unlikely lead. Great awareness from Guardado spotted the troublesome Lestienne sitting on the high defence of United. The Belgian received the ball and sped down the left and crossed at the back post for the unmarked Narsingh nod home from yards out and the Philips Stadion erupted.

Van Gaal’s side should have been level soon after, Bastien Schweinsteiger lofted a wonderful ball over the PSV back four, putting it on a plate for Mata, but the Spaniard failed to control the ball and the Eindhoven jeers and cheers sounded out to sarcastically congratulate him.

The visitors dominated and hunted the equaliser but lacked options in the final third. Van Gaal added Marouane Fellaini into the mix replacing Ander Herrera but the big Belgian, like on Saturday in United’s 3-1 win over Liverpool; he did not have any affect.

United’s energy waned and the long balls were being booted forward as PSV got men behind the ball and rode out the unlikely win.

It was great performance for PSV who finally deliver some good news for the Eredivisie and Dutch football in general. The Eindhoven side had done their country proud tonight and on the final whistle they celebrated like they had lifted the trophy, not just a victory in their first game.


PSVZoet – Arias, Bruma, Moreno, Brenet – Hendrix, Pröpper, Guardado (Schaars 72) – Narsingh, De Jong, Lestienne (Locadia 86).

GOALS: Moreno 47, Narsingh 57.

BOOKINGS: Arias 55, Moreno 60, Bruma 71.

MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea – Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw (Marcos Rojo 24) – Schweinsteiger, Herrera – Young (Valencia 86), Mata, Depay – Martial.

GOALS: Depay 41.

BOOKINGS: Smalling 67.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Joshua Brenet (PSV)



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Manchester UnitedPSV Eindhoven are set to venture into the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2009 and their first opponents are one of the most successful clubs in the world. Manchester United have claimed the European Cup silverware three times as well as winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1991 and arrive in Eindhoven on Tuesday to face Philip Cocu’s men.

Memphis Depay, PSV’s record sale of any player in their history, arrives home to face his former side and will look to make an impact which he has failed to do so far in the Premier League. The 21-year-old winger, however did help the Red Devils qualify for the group stages notching twice in part one of the Playoff round against Club Brugge at Old Trafford.


Manchester United defeated bitter rivals Liverpool 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday evening however, in all fairness it was a poor game including an atrocious first half. There was no creative spark for Van Gaal’s side, which looked like they lacked energy and passion. Apart from left-back Luke Shaw getting forward there was very little to admire from either side.

In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the powerful big Belgian Marouane Fellaini was used as makeshift centre-forward in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney but failed to make an impression. Although, United were the home side, they seemed to be restricted by their tactical straitjacket enforced on them without Rooney, but still against a poor Liverpool side, who have only scored three goals all season, they still ran out 3-1 winners.

The second half showed an improvement from the Old Trafford outfit mainly due to new sense of urgency that half-time substitute Ashley Young (replacing Depay) brought on with him. Former Ajax man Daley Blind scored a good goal just after the break, although Brendan Rodgers’ men did not look switched on to close the Dutchman down.

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One thing Van Gaal has constructed in Manchester is a well-organised defence, even though some second-half chances from the Reds made the back four look uncomfortable under pressure. The inexperienced Joe Gomez gave away a penalty to set-up Ander Herrera to make it 2-0 and after Christian Benetke (Liverpool) grabbed a consolation with a perfect overhead kick, a young Frenchman appeared off the bench to send the 75,347 into raptures.

The £58.8 million price tag was deemed as ‘ridiculous’ by Van Gaal prior to Saturday’s game, but 18-year-old Anthony Martial, a window signing from AS Monaco, killed the game off in style and paid off a tiny bit of monstrous fee. With great composure the teenager, making his debut, had veteran defender Martin Skrtel retreating before placing a shot into the Liverpool net.

PSV could trouble United come Tuesday night with their precision passing and speed off the counter. Look for Maxime Lestienne to stress out Darmain in the right-back position and Luuk de Jong should prove to be a handful, especially if the much smaller Daley Blind is sitting in central defence.

Manchester United will be without Rooney through injury and Van Gaal may look to the young Martial to make his first start and gain further confidence after his dream start.


Great tactician. Disciplinarian. Legend. Can all be words to describe former Ajax manager Louis van Gaal, who has one Champions League medal himself with the Amsterdammers. The 64-year-old stepped into the Red Devils’ hot-seat after David Moyes failed to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, when the famous Scotsman retired in 2013.

The clipboard wielding Dutchman has had little success in his tenure in Manchester so far, but this is indeed a transitional period for the 20-time league title winning side, where Van Gaal is bringing in his own players, own formation and own style of football to the Premier League.

KEY PLAYER: Memphis Depay

If Memphis Depay is going to pick his game up, surely the Philips Stadion is his perfect stage to perform this act. The 21-year-old is physically strong, fast and skilful so has all the credentials to be a top player but looks to having a tough time adjusting in the Premier League. Obviously, PSV head coach Philip Cocu knows the player very well and will look to Colombian right-back Santiago Arias to control Depay and keep him quiet. Arias will find it hard to discover a tougher task in his career, although as he proved in Saturday’s 6-0 win away to SC Cambuur, Depay may have to do some defending of his own.


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PSV’s Champions League fate

Phillip Cocu’s PSV Eindhoven are all set for their bow in this seasons’ UEFA Champions League. The Dutch champions, who were the first club from the Netherlands to participate in the competition in 1992, were drawn against Manchester United, Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow in Thursday’s draw in Monaco. They will be looking to secure a place in the last sixteen writes Sam May.

Having played in the competition 149 times to date and winning the tournament in 1988 beating Benfica 6-5 on penalties, PSV come with a wealth of experience and will be looking to emulate the success they have had in recent years. Their most recent success was reaching the play-off round when they played AC Milan in what would be a great achievement for the club, the first leg of the tie finished 1-1 at the Phillips Stadion but the return leg differed with Milan being out-right 3-0 winners.

PSV, who have won the Eredivisie title 22 times, play their opening match at home on the 15th September 2015 against Louis Van Gaal’s new look Manchester United side. The former Oranje head coach will return to his homeland hoping to spoil to the party. The first matchday will also see former PSV player Memphis Depay play against his former employers, the 21-year old pacey winger, who has made eight appearances in the competition, scoring three goals, will be looking to add to his tally when he returns to the Phillips Stadion. It comes just after he won the Eredivisie championship a few months before with Cocu’s men. It will also be a return for Daley Blind; the former Ajax player will receive a tasty reception on his arrival.

Memphis didn’t take long to spice up the occasion after taking to Twitter straight after the draw was announced stating: “well, well, we meet again”. However, the Dutch club didn’t take long to respond stating: “Were always happy to have you here. Keep in mind were unbeaten at home against Manchester United so don’t expect too much”.

Albert Stuivenberg one of Van Gaal’s trusted lieutenants will also return to his fellow country as will goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek, performance analyst Mex Reckers, chief fitness coach Jos Van Dijk and chief scout Marcel Bout.

PSV’s key to progression…

Jeroen Zoet – Recently linked with Crystal Palace, the young 24-year shot stopper, who came through the youth academy, helped clinch the title in 2014-15 with a number of outstanding displays. The goalkeeper is good in the air and also with the ball at his feet.

Hector Moreno – Signed from Espanyol this summer, the 6ft centre back comes with a wealth of experience having played for Mexico in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His physical prowess means he has the ability to lead from the back, command and organise the defence.

Jetro Willems – He represented the Netherlands at Euro 2012 becoming the youngest ever player at a European Championship. Now in the Netherlands first team, the 21-year old was once a target for Sir Alex Ferguson when the Scotsman was looking for ‘the New Evra’ but the move didn’t materialise.

Adam Maher – Signed on a five-year contract from AZ in 2013 for €6.5m, he is a skillful 22-year-old defensive and attacking midfielder, who is the youngest player ever playing at a Dutch club to score a goal in the Europa League and UEFA Cup.

Andres Guardado – The Mexican 28 years of age, was named Eredivisie player of the season for the 2014-15, he was formerly of Valencia and is a fast left-winger who has an eye for goal cutting in on his left foot.

Luciano Narsingh – The 24-year old, is a versatile attacking midfield player who can play through the middle and on both wings. He scored the final goal as PSV defeated Heerenveen 4-1 to help win the Eredivisie title this season.

Luuk De Jong – Remember him? He will probably want to forget his short spell in England with Newcastle United. On 2nd August 2015 he scored a double to help PSV clinch the Dutch Supercup. The number 9 will be hoping to get off the mark in season Champions League.

Another Dutch Compatriot

Bas Dost will also return to the Netherlands when his Wolfsburg side take on the Eindhoven side on Tuesday 3rd November 2015. The 26-year-old Dutch International, who is currently Wolfsburg’s third-choice striker, had a decent spell with the Bundesliga side last season. He came through the ranks at FC Emmen and Heracles Almelo before moving to Heerenveen in 2010 and then on to the Bundesliga club in 2012.


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Ajax open up their 2015/16 Champions League campaign tonight against the Austrian Bundesliga runners-up Rapid Vienna and Will Burns thinks the Amsterdammers would be pleased to take the Austrian side back to the Amsterdam Arena next week on level terms.




Usually qualification has been automatic for Ajax the past few seasons, however after PSV Eindhoven ran away with the Eredivisie title last year, Frank de Boer must take his men through two sets of qualifying rounds before entering the first group stages.

Their opponents, Rapid Vienna enter the competition for the first time in nine seasons and have already begun their season with two comfortable wins.  Firstly, starting off with a thumping 5-1 victory over Weiz in the Austrian Cup then followed that up with a 3-0 win over Ried in the Bundesliga days later. As reading the past two scores suggest, the Austrians can score goals.

Their star man, Slovenian striker Robert Beric notched an impressive total of 28 goals in 37 league starts last year and Ajax’s young defensive pairing of Joel Veltman and Jairo Riedewald will have to be very wary of him.

Thus why I am thinking about tonight’s solid bet of Ajax ‘Draw No Bet’ at a generous 2.37 at Bet365. De Boer and his men would be very happy in keeping this game tight, keeping Beric and company at bay and taking the Austrians back to Holland next week with the tie all level. However, with talents like Davy Klaassen, Anwar El Ghazi, Lasse Schone and Arek Milik all capable of causing problems in front of goal, Ajax could very well steal an away goal or even take a lead back to Amsterdam.


Date: 30-7-2015 (20.05PM UK Time)

UK TV: None


Stadium: Ernst Happel Stadion, Vienna

Referee: William Collum (SCO)

Assistants: Francis Connor (SCO)/Damien MacGraith (IRE)

Fourth Official: John Beaton (SCO)


Rapid Vienna (4-2-3-1): Novota; Auer, M. Hofmann, Sonnleitner, Stangl; Petsos, Schwab; Schobesberger, S.Hofman, Kainz; Beric.

Ajax (4-3-3): Cillessen; Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks; Bazoer, Sinkgraven, Klaassen; El Ghazi, Schone, Milik.


Ajax DRAW NO BET at 2.37 (BET365)


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Ajax 1 – 1 Paris Saint-Germain





Ajax clinched a fantastic point with a 74th minute Lasse Schöne trademark free-kick that denied Paris Saint-Germain all three points in the opening group game of the Champions League writes Will Burns.

The money men from France took the lead after just 15 minutes when Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani slotted into the open goal on the rebound from former Ajax legend Zlatan Ibrahimović’s blocked effort. The chance came about after an horrific error from Ajax left-back Nicolai Boilesen. The young Dane had conceded possession to Brazilian playmaker Lucas Moura by stumbling when attempting to clear a searching ball down the right.

Laurent Blanc’s side continued to apply pressure on Jasper Cillessen’s goal, but were unable to create any further opportunities as Frank de Boer’s defence performed with sturdiness to go in at half-time just the one goal down.

Ajax almost found a breach in their goal nearly straight after the restart when Finnish defender Niklas Moisander squandered the ball, only for Lucas to fire wide with only Cillessen to beat.  The hosts came close to capitalising on Lucas’ recklessness minutes later when substitute Niki Zimling saw his shot skim over the crossbar from long range.

However, Lucas continued to be at the head of PSG’s attack and would have found a deserved goal if not for Cillessen, who produced a terrific save to tip the Brazil international’s effort round the post after he had been played through by a excellent ball from Ibrahimović.

Ajax only threatened from outside the area with not one of their 11 attempts on goal were taken from inside the box but PSG’s lack of composure up front was punished on 74 minutes when the Amsterdammers found the all important equaliser.

Danish midfielder Lasse Schöne curled a perfect free-kick beyond the helpless Salvatore Sirigu, who despite getting a hand to the shot, could not keep the ball from heading into the net and exploding the Amsterdam ArenA crowd to their feet.

Ajax smelt blood and Schöne then almost completed an unlikely turnaround just minutes later with a low drive from a set-piece that forced Sirigu push the ball onto the post. PSG also nearly claimed the winner but Ajax held on for a draw that should give them hope of progression from the gorup that also contains FC Barcelona and APOEL Nicosia. Schöne’s goal ensured that Ajax stay undefeated in the last four Champions League matches, the Amsterdammers best run since October 2005 to February 2006.


AJAX: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen, Klaassen, Viergever (Zimling 46), Serero, Schöne (Milik 82), Sigthórsson (El Ghazi 61), Andersen.

SUBS NOT USED: Boer, Van der Hoorn, Denswil, Duarte.

GOALS: Schöne 74.

BOOKINGS: Klaassen 30, Veltman 56, El Ghazi 68, Serero 69.

PSG: Sirigu, Van der Wiel, David Luiz, Marquinhos, Maxwell, Motta, Verratti (Pastore 81), Matuidi, Lucas Moura (Lavezzi 81), Cavani, Ibrahimović.

SUBS NOT USED: Douchez, Digne, Cabaye, Camara, Bahebeck.

GOALS: Cavani 14.

BOOKINGS: Marquinhos 72.


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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.


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.


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


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Besiktas 3-1 Feyenoord






A goal from Feyenoord substitute Elvis Manu was not enough for Feyenoord after they were knocked out of the Champions League following a poor performance in the Turkish capital this evening with two Beşiktaş goals coming from defensive errors reports Ryan O’Grady.

After the disappointing 2-1 defeat in the home leg of this tie, Fred Rutten’s side knew that they would have to win by 2 goals to progress or even just match the previous result to send the tie to extra-time.

Before Besiktas’ first goal on 28 minutes, Feyenoord actually had more possession and most of the game was played around the halfway line if not more in the Turkish side’s half. However even with this territorial advantage Feyenoord barely created anything, the only shot on target was from Mitchell te Vrede but it was correctly ruled out for offside. Both Boëtius and Schaken were very involved in the build up play for Feyenoord but neither could deliver a telling cross to create a chance for te Vrede.

The near-capacity crowd in Istanbul roared their team on throughout the game and were rewarded in the 28th minute when van Beek dawdled on the ball and was dispossessed by Pektemek, who ran into the box before squaring for Demba Ba, who was making his first professional appearance in Besiktas. His initial shot was well blocked and both players fell to the floor and in the ensuing melee Ba somehow managed to knock the ball in with his calf sending the home crowd in raptures. The goal was followed by a 10-minute period where the home side dominated the game creating chances and forcing errors. This ended when Boëtius broke clear for Feyenoord but was stopped by Gülüm, there was certainly a shout for a free kick, which had it been given would’ve almost meant a red card for the Turkish defender as he was the last man. Another man who was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch was Feyenoord’s Miquel Nelom who was arguably the worst player on the pitch repeatedly being dispossessed and given the ball away with wayward passes. He was booked in the 33rd minute for a challenge on Demba Ba, which was a fair decision by the referee. This was followed by another challenge in the 44th minute, this time on former Fulham man Kerim Frei who knocked the ball past Nelom and was clearly blocked off.

Immediately after the interval Feyenoord had a couple oh half-chances including an over hit cross from Schaken which nearly went in. In the 56th minute Rutten changed his system, he brought off the ineffective te Vrede and Nelom for midfielder Vormer and striker Manu. This led to a switch from 4-3-3 to a hopefully more attacking 3-4-3. Then in the 69th minute Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord’s captain, had to go off after stupidly taking a shot long after the whistle had been blown for a foul and appearing to have possibly pulled his calf muscle. He was replaced by Karsdorp who didn’t have a great game when he came on nearly costing Feyenoord a goal. Then substitute Manu struck in the 73rd minute to give the travelling Dutch supporters a ray of hope. A long ball out from the defence was latched onto by Elvis Manu who superbly knocked it over the top of the defender before stretching a leg out to poke it past the goalkeeper. Suddenly it looked as if Feyenoord would get themselves back in the game. From a corner that was poorly dealt with by the goalkeeper, Vormer knocked it just wide and Immers had a shot from the edge of the box as well which was easily stopped by the goalkeeper. However this period of attack from Feyenoord was abruptly cut short after Demba Ba knocked in another goal from close range. Olcay Sahan received the ball on the edge of the box and with his first touch knocked it past Mathijsen before cutting back inside past Van Beek at the edge of the six-yard box and then squared it to Ba who had a tap-in.  This dampened the Feyenoord spirits and they never recovered. The win was finished off in the 85th minute when Kongolo tried to pass it back to the goalkeeper but it was intercepted by Ba who went past the goalkeeper and slotted home to complete his hat-trick and thoroughly endear himself to the home crowd.

Feyenoord will be hoping they can recover from this damaging defeat in time for their opening game of the Eredivisie season away to ADO Den Haag. They will also be hoping that this elimination will not encourage yet more stars from last season to depart.


BESIKTAS: Zengin, Gülüm, Ramon, Franco, Hutchinson, Kavlak, Şahan, Uysal, Frei (Köybaşi 74), Ba (Tosun 87), Pektemek (Özyakup 85).

GOALS: Ba 28, 80 & 86.

BOOKINGS: Uysal 22, Gülüm 71.

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Mathijsen, Nelom (Vormer 58), Kongolo, van Beek, Immers, Clasie (Karsdorp 69), Vilhena, Schaken, te Vrede (Manu 57), Boëtius.

GOALS: Manu 74.

BOOKINGS: Nelom 33, Boëtius 37, Schaken 67.


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Besiktas vs. Feyenoord






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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