Europa League: Stuttering Bhoys battle Ajax in daunting Dutch trip
Having failed to make the Champions League group stage, Ronny Deila’s Celtic face Dutch giants Ajax, a side they have toppled four times in eight previous meetings, as the Bhoys seek a recovery in the Europa League.
The Hoops were knocked-out by Swedish outfit Malmo in the play-offs, while Frank de Boer’s Amsterdam outfit also saw their elite continental competition hopes dashed by Rapid Vienna, but the two face-off in their opening Europa League Group A clash.
Deila’s reigning Scottish Premiership champions are 7/2 with Coral to secure all three points from their visit to the Amsterdam ArenA, though were narrowly outgunned 1-0 on their last visit in a Champions League clash in 2013.
The hosts currently sit at the summit of the Eredivisie at this early stage of the season, while Celtic have struggled domestically so far, sitting five points adrift of Aberdeen and things don’t get much easier on their Dutch travels.
Celtic come up against a former Old Firm nemesis in the form of Ajax’s current boss De Boer, and the Rangers legend’s twin brother Ronald has upped the intensity ahead of the Bhoys clash.
Once an Ibrox midfielder for four years, Dutchman Ronald has insisted nobody in his country watches Scottish football any more, due to Celtic becoming an irrelevance in a league without any competition.
“In Holland, they don’t show highlights of the Celtic games any more and why? It’s because Rangers aren’t there,” declared De Boer.
“People here don’t only talk about Rangers coming back, they talk about the Old Firm. They talk about both teams together and that’s what they’re interested in.”
Former Gers star De Boer also added to his Hoops onslaught by claiming the sale of defender Virgil van Dijk to Southampton has gravely weakened his side’s Europa League opponents, despite replacing him with £5.5m signing Jozo Simunovic.
“Van Dijk was one of the first men down on the team sheet so losing him makes Celtic a bit weaker,” he continued.
“But Virgil leaving presents the chance for somebody else to step up and show their skills. Sometimes when a guy gets the chance to play regularly he can take a big step forward.”
Lasse Schone was a menace to Celtic when the teams last met in 2013, striking in both Amsterdam and Glasgow, and the Denmark international attacker is 6/1 to open proceedings on home soil once again.
Leigh Griffiths is set to lead the line for Deila’s Bhoys once more and the Scotland striker is 7/4 to net anytime, potentially adding to his seven goals in all competitions already this campaign.
Betting tip: Leigh Griffiths to score anytime @ 7/4