While it is good to highlight that football ain’t easy and any team can provide a good challenge, even against a world-class side such as Chelsea, we occasionally have matches that are harder than others. And having to face Ajax away in the Champions League certainly falls under this spectrum.
Good thing is, Chelsea seem to be finding their groove under manager Frank Lampard. We are still a few weeks away from full strength thanks to injuries, and play on the pitch is certainly not perfect. Nevertheless, we should be able to at least mount a very good challenge against last season’s CL semifinalists on their own turf today.
Date / Time: Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 17:55 BST; 12:55pm EDT; 10:25pm IST
Venue: Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan — whose sole Chelsea match in charge was the return leg of last season’s Europa League semifinal against Eintracht Frankfurt, which we won 5-4 on penalties.
Forecast: Sunny intervals and gentle breeze, followed by a cloudy sky
On TV: BT Sport 3 (UK); TNT, UniMás, TUDN (USA); SONY TEN 2 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: B/R Live, Univision NOW, Watch TNT (USA); BT Sport Live (UK); SONY LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Ajax team news: Manager Erik ten Hag is not as unlucky as his Chelsea counterpart when it comes to squad fitness. His team is squeaky clean in terms of injuries ahead of the match.
Last summer the Dutch club suffered heavy losses in the transfer market, seeing their two wonderkids, centre-back Matthijs de Ligt and midfielder Frenkie de Jong, leaving Ajax for Juventus and Barcelona, respectively. But they managed to keep a strong team for their purposes inside and outside of the Netherlands, as they have yet to lose an official match this season.
“Last year was last year, we are building a new team. We have to step up and we have started the season well.”
Still, manager Ten Hag is expecting a tough match against Chelsea — with whom he sees similarities to his own side.
“We have to be developed and it is only if you play out of your philosophy. That is the same as Chelsea. They want to play football and stay in the opponents’ half.”
-Erik ten Hag; Source: Daily Express
Chelsea team news: As it has often been the case for a while now, manager Frank Lampard will be short of options in a few sectors on the pitch thanks to injuries. Midfielders Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, as well as defensive duo Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger, are all out of contention.
The good news is that left-back Emerson Palmieri is back, being included in the 19-man group that travelled to Amsterdam yesterday. He might be of help against a side as tough as the hosts, who got 3-0 wins over Lille and Valencia to kick off their Champions League campaign this season.
“We are expecting a really tough match against a team who we know how they performed last year. Now they have started this group winning both games comfortably, so it is going to be a tough match.
“I don’t think our five wins in a row mean anything other than I hope we have some confidence but this will be a completely different challenge which we need to be ready for.
“I respect the Ajax team. I watched them last year and I know the team has changed slightly but I am very aware of the new threats and anywhere you travel in the Champions League is a difficult match.
“We are not scared of Ajax but we hugely respect them as a team. We also have confidence in ourselves.”
-Frank Lampard; Source: Chelsea FC
Previously: This will be our first competitive match against Ajax, whom we have met a few times before in friendlies. But we do have an unbeaten record against teams from the Netherlands, with two 0-0 draws against AFC DWS in the 1968-69 UEFA Cup second round; and two 3-1 wins over Feyenoord in the 1999-2000 Champions League group stage.