Champions League: Back underdogs Ajax and Marseille to avoid defeat

Balotelli came to the rescue the last time Milan faced Ajax
Balotelli came to the rescue the last time Milan faced Ajax

AC Milan just need a draw at home to Ajax and despite them being strong favourites to win the game James Horncastle believes a draw is what the Italian side will have to settle for...

"A draw will be enough to see them through to the last 16 and even though their defence is a shambles, Milan have still managed to get the results they need in Europe this season even when they’ve been written off."

Back The Draw @ 4.03/1

AC Milan v Ajax
Kick-off: Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Interactive

Three years ago this week, Ajax travelled to San Siro in the group stages of the Champions League and beat Milan 2-0. Do that on Wednesday and, unlike then, they will actually qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition for the first time since 2005-06.

Demy de Zeeuw and Toby Alderweireld got the goals against Milan that night. They're no longer at Ajax. In fact, the only player present in that team still at the club is Eyong Enoh. Gone are the likes of Maarten Stekelenburg, Jan Vertonghen, Gregory van der Wiel, Urby Emanuelson, Christian Eriksen and a certain Luis Suarez.

What chance then do Ajax have of getting what they need this time around? Reflecting on their encounter with Milan at the Amsterdam Arena back in October, they've got every reason to believe they can be victorious. Ajax thought they'd won it when Stefano Denswill gave them the lead in the 90th minute only for the visitors to be given a controversial penalty deep into injury time which Mario Balotelli dispatched to snatch a 1-1 draw.

Memories of that injustice might serve as added motivation for Ajax at San Siro. Confidence is high after their 2-1 win against Barcelona, a result they achieved despite being down to 10 men for nearly all the second half. ADO Den Haag and NAC Breda have been put to the sword since then both by 4-0 scorelines.

Milan also look a little out of sorts again. Many thought they'd turned a corner on their return from Celtic a fortnight ago but Saturday's 2-2 draw at Livorno raised a few alarm bells. Again they required Balotelli to save the day this time with a thunderous free-kick. A draw will be enough to see them through to the last 16 and even though their defence is a shambles, Milan have still managed to get the results they need in Europe this season even when they've been written off. So why not back the draw at 4.03/1.

Recommended Bet
Back The Draw @ 4.03/1


Marseille v Dortmund
Kick-off: Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Interactive

Across the French border, Marseille, bottom and point-less in Group F, host Borussia Dortmund in one of the most intriguing games of the mid-week Champions League calendar. Under the caretaker charge of their director of sport Jose Anigo following Elie Baup's dismissal on Saturday afternoon, OM could experience a bounce provoked by a change in manager. Their opponents travel to France having left many of their best players in the treatment room.

Already without their first choice defence, Dortmund lost Sven Bender to injury in the weekend's defeat to Bayer Leverkusen and his midfield partner Nuri Sahin is a doubt too. In sum, Jurgen Klopp could be without his preferred back six. Marseille beat Dortmund 3-0 at the Velodrome two years ago.

This team isn't as good by comparison. But their visitors are vulnerable and improbable as it sounds they might get something out of this. Remember, Marseille don't want to become the first French team ever to go out of the Champions League without registering a single point. With that in mind back the draw at 5.14/1.

Recommended Bet
Back The Draw @ 5.14/1

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