Ajax vs PAOK Thessaloniki Preview, Predictions & Betting Tips
UEFA Champions League | Johan Cruijff Arena | 13th August 19.30
Ajax can finish the job against PAOK Thessaloniki at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam and reach the UEFA Champions League playoffs. The Dutch champions were superior in the 1st leg in Greece despite the 2-2 draw and are tipped to cover the -1 handicap.
Ajax began the season successfully by beating rivals PSV Eindhoven 2-0 in the Dutch Super Cup. Erik ten Hag’s side then drew 2-2 at Vitesse to start their Eredivisie title defence before a 2-2 draw against PAOK in the 1st leg in Greece.
It was a solid performance at a tough venue, followed with a convincing 5-0 home win against Emmen in the Eredivisie where Ajax took 32 shots including 12 on target. Regular contributors Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic scored before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar bagged a brace off the bench.
Three central defenders were signed in Lisandro Martínez, Kik Pierie and Edson Álvare alongside midfielder Razvan Marin and winger Quincy Promes. Martínez has featured heavily in the opening weeks of the season and Marin started against Emmen.
Carel Eiting, Zakaria Labyad and Hassane Bandé are injured but none are first team regulars at this stage. Striker Kasper Dolberg came off injured in the 1st leg in Greece but was on the bench against Emmen. Erik ten Hag has plenty of options at his disposal so he can rotate as necessary, we could see Promes start in place of David Neres but few changes are expected.
Ajax may have lost Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong but Erik ten Hag still has a strong squad that are favourites to win the Eredivisie. Daley Blind has moved into midfield, while Donny van de Beek has started the season on fire alongside Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech.
PAOK went unbeaten in the Greek Super League last season which was a fantastic achievement. The Dutch champions represent a significant step up in class however, and they might need time to adjust to new manager Abel Ferreira despite a positive pre-season.