- Sporting host Ajax in Lisbon on Champions League Matchday 1
- Wednesday’s fixture will be the first meeting between the two sides in over 30 years
- Find the odds, preview, and prediction below
Sporting Lisbon and Ajax will begin their Champions League journeys on Wednesday, with kick-off scheduled for 3:00 PM EST at the Estadio Jose Alvalade. These two sides have landed in Group C alongside Borussia Dortmund and Turkish giants, Besiktas.
Sporting and Ajax are off to fantastic starts in the Primeira Liga and Eredivisie after both capturing domestic titles last term. This is the first meeting between the Portuguese and Dutch standouts in the Champions League, previously clashing in the 1988-89 UEFA Cup, which is now known as the Europa League.
Sporting vs Ajax Odds
|Sporting vs Ajax||SPO +0.5 (-160) | AJX -0.5 (+145)||SPO +190 | AJX +140 | DRAW +250||Ov 2.5 (-120) | Un 2.5 (-105)|
All odds as of September 13th at DraftKings.
Sporting Finally Back in Champions League
Following their first Portuguese title in 19 years in 2020/21, Sporting is finally back in Europe’s most prized competition after a three-year hiatus. Their last appearance in the UCL was the 2017/18 season, where they bowed out in the group stages. After three straight wins to begin the season, Sporting has taken a slight dip in form domestically.
Prior to the international break, Ruben Amorim’s side played to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Famalicao, who were a mid-table club last season. Then on Saturday, they came up against rivals Porto. Nuno Santos fired the hosts ahead early in the first half, but Colombian international Luis Diaz managed to equalize in the 71st minute with a breathtaking strike from just inside the box to secure a draw for the visitors. It was by no means a poor showing from Lisbon, but there were a couple of clear-cut opportunities that had to be put away.
Through five games, Amorim’s men now sit in third spot behind a surprising Estoril Praia outfit and league leaders Benfica. Wednesday’s clash against Ajax will be an extremely tough one, with the Eredivisie giants possessing huge experience in this competition.
🇵🇹 Destination: Lisbon!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 13, 2021
Unfortunately, Sporting will be without captain and center-back Sebastian Coates who is suspended, while Pedro Goncalves, who bagged 23 goals in their title-winning campaign, is a doubt with a minor knee injury. If he does miss out, Santos will be relied upon to create some havoc in the final third after scoring his first goal of the season over the weekend.
By no surprise, Ajax has hit the ground running in the Eredivisie, going 3-1-0 thus far. They trail PSV Eindhoven by two points for top spot, but Erik ten Hag’s squad have netted 13 times already while conceding just once. Former West Ham man Sebastian Haller has been deadly, scoring four goals in as many appearances thus far.
While the competition in the Netherlands is nothing for Ajax with the exception of PSV, their impressive start to the campaign shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to the Champions League.
This is now their fourth straight campaign in the tournament, but Ajax has exited in the group stages in back-to-back years. Last term, ten Hag’s side moved over to Europa in the round of 32, proceeding to beat Ligue 1 title-holders Lille then Young Boys before losing to Roma in the quarterfinals.
New season, new hopes & dreams… 🙏
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 13, 2021
Despite the lack of success in the UCL, Ajax has its entire core still intact from 2020/21 and you better believe they’ll be poised to make it to the knockout stages for the first time since their heroic run to the semifinals in the 2019 edition. Although there’s limited history between the Amsterdam outfit and Sporting, it’s important to note that Ajax has only tasted defeat twice in their previous 10 matches with Portuguese oppositions in Europe.
Sporting vs Ajax Key Stats
|3-2-0||Record in League Play||4-1-1|
|WDD||Form in Last Three Games||DWW|
Sporting vs Ajax Prediction
This should definitely be an entertaining match because both teams are relatively even in quality. However, Sporting is missing the heartbeat of their backline in Coates, and Goncalves will likely not play with a knee injury. That’s two important figures absent at opposite ends of the pitch.
Ajax on the other hand basically has a full-strength squad for this fixture and they’ve been firing on all cylinders lately. With that being said, I believe the visitors will come out on top here with a crucial three points to kick off the UCL campaign.
Pick: Ajax +140
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