Ajax v Rosenborg
Thursday August 17, 19:45
Having reached last season's final, where they lost to Manchester United, Ajax are back on the Europa League trail. Of course, they'd prefer not to be, but a lively tie against Nice in the Champions League qualifiers ended in failure.
It's been a summer of change in Amsterdam. Peter Bosz defected to Borussia Dortmund after just one season in charge, and the club decided to promote Jong Ajax boss Marcel Keizer from within. Some key players have departed - Bertrand Traore ended his loan from Chelsea and joined Lyon, midfield battler Davy Klaassen moved to Everton, and now rising defensive star Davinson Sanchez has his sights set on a move to Spurs.
It's perhaps understandably been a difficult start to Keizer's tenure. Ajax drew 1-1 and 2-2 against Nice, tumbling out on away goals, and in their Eredivisie opener at the weekend they lost 2-1 at Heracles. Keizer's cause on Thursday won't be helped by the absence of full-back Daley Sinkgraven, who has a knee problem.
Rosenborg were edged out by Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, but domestically they remain dominant. An excellent 2-1 win at Molde on Saturday means they are seven points clear at the top of the Eliteserien.
Although the men from Trondheim drew a blank in both legs against Celtic, I fancy them to score in the Dutch capital. Ajax have looked shaky defensively this term, and Rosenborg have scored in 15 of their last 18 competitive games. Former Arsenal and Wolfsburg striker Nicklas Bendtner is averaging a goal every other game, while Serbian attacker Milan Jevtovic has netted in two of his last three appearances.
I toyed with the idea of giving Rosenborg a goal start on the Asian Handicap, but at time of writing there isn't enough liquidity in the market. Instead, I'll use the Sportsbook to back Both Teams To Score at 2.1511/10 (the Exchange has a slightly inferior price). Stretching back into last season, Ajax have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 matches in all competitions.
Rosenborg boss Kare Ingebritsen (yes, the Manchester City guy) says his team will be more attacking than they were in Glasgow against Celtic. Let's hope he's true to his word.
Back Both Teams To Score @ 11/10 (Betfair Sportsbook)