MX23RW : Tuesday, November 3 00:41:01| >> :60:2202:2202:
Oct 27, 2020 at 8pm UK at KKWing Stadium
AtalantaAtalanta BC
2-2
AjaxAjax
Zapata (54', 60')
Ilicic (23'), Djimsiti (66'), Malinovskiy (90+1')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Tadic (30' pen.), Traore (38')
Traore (6'), Klaassen (20'), Mazraoui (25')

Preview: Atalanta BC vs. Ajax - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Atalanta BC and Ajax, including prediction, team news and possible lineups.

Atalanta BC welcome the equally prolific Ajax to Bergamo, in search of another victory to put them in early charge of a challenging Group D.

While the Italian side kicked off an unprecedented second successive Champions League campaign with a 4-0 win away to Danish debutants Midtjylland last week, a Nicolas Tagliafico own goal saw Ajax lose 1-0 at home to Liverpool in their opening game.


Match preview

Atalanta BC players celebrate scoring against FC Midtjylland on October 21, 2020© Reuters

This fixture will be the first time these teams have met, though it could very well have been worth the wait, as both sides emphasise attack over all else.

At the weekend, Ajax racked up an almost obscene 13 goals away to VVV Venlo, while Tuesday night's hosts have been one of Europe's most prolific sides in recent months.

The Bergamaschi started the new season with three consecutive wins, scoring 13 goals in the process, but have now lost their last two league games: 4-1 at Napoli, then 3-1 at home to Sampdoria on Saturday. Their form in continental competition though - reaching the latter stages last season - has been peerless for a club of their stature.

A 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk on the second Champions League matchday last season was Atalanta's sole defeat in 16 European home matches (W8 D7), since losing in the 1988 Cup Winners' Cup semi-final second leg. In fact, those are their only losses in 21 home European matches to date.

The visitors, of course, have an even richer continental pedigree. This is now Ajax's third straight appearance in the Champions League group stages - the first time they have gained automatic qualification in six years. However, they have only qualified from their group once in their last seven appearances, when they went as far as the semi-finals in 2018-19.

Erik ten Hag's team picked up seven points away from home in last season's group stage and are actually unbeaten in nine away matches in the Champions League - winning six and drawing three.

Ajax's Dusan Tadic in action with Liverpool's Fabinho in the Champions League on October 22, 2020© Reuters

Including the competition's qualifying phase, their unbeaten run on the road stretches to an impressive 15 matches. Not only that, but the Amsterdammers are unbeaten in their last five games away to Italian sides, since 2016.

Saturday's record Eredivisie victory bettered their own 12-1 win against Vitesse in 1972. Curiously, they were also the first Dutch club to hit double figures in a league game since PSV Eindhoven beat Feyenoord 10-0 on 24 October 2010 - exactly ten years previously.

Burkinabe forward Lassina Traore scored five of the goals - the first Ajax player to do so in the league since Marco van Basten hit six in 1985 - and also provided three assists, as his side registered 45 shots at goal. Undoubtedly, Atalanta's increasingly leaky defence will be wary of the threat posed by the talented cousin of Aston Villa's Bertrand Traore.

Gian Piero Gasperini's squad has a prominent Dutch contingent, including marauding wing-back Hans Hateboer, midfielder Marten de Roon and exciting forward Sam Lammers, signed from PSV in the summer. German international Robin Gosens also played in the Eredivisie for several years before switching to Serie A.

Both Gosens and Hateboer are integral to the attacking width so important to Gasperini's approach and are as likely to pop up in the Ajax box as to be found defending their own. With goals at both ends almost guaranteed, this game is one not to miss for fans and neutrals alike.

Atalanta BC Champions League form: W
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): WWWLWL

Ajax Champions League form: L
Ajax form (all competitions): WWLWLW


Team News

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag pictured in March 2019© Reuters

Aleksei Miranchuk marked his Atalanta debut against Midtjylland with a goal having recovered from a thigh injury and is ready for the bench. Defender Mattia Caldara is likely to be sidelined until the new year, however, after undergoing knee surgery in early October.

Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini is still recovering from an injury sustained in August, so Marco Sportiello continues to deputise. Summer signing Cristiano Piccini is out with a recurrent knee injury.

Matteo Pessina played his first game of the season at Midtjylland having been out since early August due to a knee injury, while Ruslan Malinovskyi - owner of perhaps the most powerful left foot in Serie A - sat out the first group game with an abdominal injury but since returned to action as a second-half substitute against Sampdoria.

Ajax forward Mohammed Kudus missed the loss at Groningen through injury but returned against Heerenveen to score his first goal for the club. However, he was substituted early on against Liverpool after injuring his right knee and now needs an operation for meniscus damage. He is not expected to play again this year.

Brazilian winger Antony sat out the Liverpool defeat through injury but returned to action on Saturday. Otherwise, Ajax coach Ten Hag has few concerns relating to injury and illness.

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Sportiello; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pasalic, Gomez, Zapata

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Tagliafico; Klaassen, Gravenberch, Martinez; Promes, Tadic, Traore


SM words green background

We say: Atalanta BC 2-2 Ajax

As both teams can seemingly score at will of late, the safe money is on a score draw in Lombardy.

A mouth-watering clash of flair-filled sides, the technical wizardry of Dusan Tadic, Papu Gomez, et al should assure a steady stream of chances at either end.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

ID:419714:cQx

Who will win Tuesday's Champions League clash between Atalanta and Ajax?

Atalanta
Draw
Ajax
Atalanta
0.0%
Draw
0.0%
Ajax
0.0%
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Real Madrid players celebrate scoring against Barcelona in El Clasico on October 24, 2020
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European roundup: Ajax hit VVV-Venlo for 13, Real Madrid win El Clasico
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1AC Milan6510145916
2SassuoloSassuolo6420189914
3Juventus6330145912
4Atalanta BCAtalanta64021713412
5Hellas VeronaHellas Verona632183511
6Napoli6402147711
7Inter Milan63211510511
8Roma63211310311
9Sampdoria6312119210
10Lazio63121012-210
11Fiorentina62131012-27
12CagliariCagliari62131215-37
13BeneventoBenevento62041017-76
14Bologna62041112-16
15Parma6123813-55
16SpeziaSpezia6123815-75
17Genoa5122510-55
18Udinese6105611-53
19Torino50141015-51
20Crotone6015617-111

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