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Former Barca teammates De Boer and Enrique meet in crunch CL clash

Despite their distinguished European backgrounds, Barcelona and Ajax have remarkably only faced each other in competitive action twice before in history, both of which were in the Champions League group stages last season.

The Catalan giants came out out 4-0 victors in the first home leg, so are heavily odds-on to win at 1/9, and a more enticing 15/2 for that scoreline again.

La Liga table-toppers Barca are in terrific form this term, having not lost domestically, but they did come unstuck against PSG in this competition in Group F last time out, losing 3-2.

Ajax, meanwhile, have drawn their last three in all competitions and undefeated in their previous nine, but another tie is probably the best result the Dutch side can hope for at 7/1.

The Eredivisie club, currently second in the Netherlands’ top flight, did win their home fixture 2-1 against Barca last term, though, and are massive 22/1 chances for victory on the road this time, and 70/1 by that scoreline.

Remember punters, that Ajax boss Frank de Boer knows all about his upcoming opponents as he was a player at the Nou Camp for four years. The ex-Dutch defender was also a teammate of Barca boss Luis Enrique.

They have played against each other before as well, in 1995 with the Spaniard losing in Real Madrid colours against De Boer’s Ajax 1-0. That scoreline again in favour of the Amsterdam club is priced at a whopping 70/1.

Former Liverpool and West Ham United defensive player Javier Mascherano, though, has spoken of the importance of the upcoming fixture. “The most important game is always the next one,” the Argentine said.

“If you win [the next game], that changes the next one. We need to win against Ajax and go into the next game [against Real Madrid in El Clasico] with confidence.”

Mascherano’s teammate Xavi, meanwhile, added: “After the slip-up in Paris (which leaves Barca on three points after two games), we have to take three points.”

One usual suspect who can make a difference for the Spaniards is Lionel Messi, who comes into this game on the back of scoring his 250th La Liga goal in a 3-0 win over Eibar. The superstar Argentine also hit a hat-trick in this fixture last term, and is an 8/1 chance to do so again, or 2/1 for two or more.

Ajax’s South African attacker Thulani Serero was on target in the Amsterdam ArenA against Barca, and can be backed at 7/1 to net anytime once more. Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, though, is the man the watch having scored four times this season so far. He is 4/1 in the anytime market.

Poland’s new star Arkadiusz Milik, meanwhile, is a highly tempting 14/1 chance to net last. He recently got goals for his country against both world champions Germany in a famous 2-0 win, and then Scotland.