After a poor run of form, Ajax will look to get their 2022/23 campaign back on track when they play host to Napoli tonight.
It hasn’t been a good few weeks for the Eredivisie champions with a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool being followed by another loss to AZ and a 1-1 draw at the weekend with Go Ahead Eagles.
That loss to Liverpool leaves them third in their Champions League group, three points behind leaders Napoli who have enjoyed an excellent start to the season both domestically and in Europe.
The Italian side also lead Serie A and have yet to lose a match in either competition, winning their last six, more often than not by a comfortable margin.
A defeat to them wouldn’t end Ajax’s chances of making it out of the group, but it would leave them with a huge mountain to climb. To avoid facing such a mammoth task, they’ll need to produce their best display since Alfred Schreuder took over.
They have the players to do so, with no key personnel missing through injury. After being rested at the weekend, Edson Alvarez, Mohammed Kudus, Steven Bergwijn and Steven Berghuis will be fully fit and will almost certainly return to the starting XI.
It doesn’t look like Owen Wijndal will be fit enough to make the squad, but the new signing wouldn’t start ahead of Daley Blind anyway.
Perhaps the best bit of team news for the Dutch club is the fact that star striker Victor Osimhen won’t be fit to play for Napoli. Giovanni Simeone will most likely lead the line in his place.
Likely Ajax lineup: Pasveer; Rensch, Timber, Bassey, Blind; Berghuis, Alvarez, Taylor; Tadic, Kudus, Bergwijn
Likely Napoli lineup: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Min-jae, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski; Lozano, Simeone, Kvaratskhelia.
If Ajax don’t improve on their most recent performances, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll get a point, let alone three, against such an impressive Napoli side.
However, this group of players has shown that, when playing on the front foot, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and Schreuder will surely let them do so after the more conservative approach against Liverpool didn’t work.
It may be too early in the team’s development to beat such a strong opponent, but they’re good enough to avoid defeat.
Predicted result: Ajax 1-1 Napoli