One other tip this evening as Barcelona are welcomed by an Ajax side they comfortably beat 4-0 just a couple of weeks ago in the Nou Camp.
Ajax vs. Barcelona – (7.45pm)
Barcelona will travel to Holland knowing that a win will secure the group for them, and although it won’t be of great importance tonight with a home game to come, they will want the win knowing they can afford to give a lot of second string players a chance in the final home game.
Without insulting the Dutch league too much – because obviously it’s a good professional standard that anyone would be happy to play – but Ajax are not a lot more than the best of a bad bunch for me. I think the quality in their side tonight is less than 50% of last year’s UCL side, and on paper, they’ve failed 90% of their big UCL test at home in the past few years. Last year’s draw with AC Milan deserves credit, and before that Munich in 04′, but not a lot else.
As far as I know the likes of Alves and Xavi are potentially going to be rested with players like Mascherano, Montoya and Sergie Roberti expected to come in to the side, but you should still expect to see Neymar, Iniesta and the usual attacking players. Lionel Messi is out, but credit to a great report on stats bomb yesterday I found out Barcelona are on a 10-0-0 run in La Liga without him, and haven’t lost the last 3 UCL games where he wasn’t in the squad. Moreover, with Ajax’s depleted side robbed of key players in the transfer window and the absence of De Jong and Sigthorsson this evening, you can’t really say this side are any better than those La Liga teams Barcelona have won without Messi.
Again, huge credit to Ted at Statsbomb for bringing to my attention they also won those games by an average of 2.6 goals. The drift in Ajax’s favour upon this team news is nothing more than a boosted price to me, because you could take Iniesta out as well and I’d still think they’d beat this Ajax team that have shown inconsistency lately, including failing to score in 2 of their last 3 home games domestically.
Barcelona -1AH @ 2.01 with Pinnacle