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November 6, 2013 7:45 PM GMT
Amsterdam ArenA — Amsterdam
Referee:‬ D. Aytekin‎
Attendance:‬ 51908‎

Ajax-Celtic Preview: Victory vital for visitors with second place in sight

Neil Lennon's side can move above AC Milan into a qualification spot in Group H if they claim all three points in Amsterdam and the Italian outfit lose to Barcelona at the Camp Nou

By Ryan Benson

Celtic midfielder James Forrest
Ajax will be aiming to make amends for their worst start to a Champions League campaign when Celtic visit on Wednesday.

The Dutch champions have amassed one point from their opening three group games, courtesy of a home draw with AC Milan at the start of October.

Never before have Ajax failed to win in their first three fixtures of the competition, although a victory at Amsterdam ArenA against Celtic will lift them above the Scottish club in Group H.

Frank de Boer's side do not head into the match in particularly impressive form, their only win in five outings coming against fourth-tier ASWH in the KNVB Beker.

Celtic defender Efe Ambrose anticipates a tough game in the Netherlands, but he believes all the pressure is on Ajax as the hosts look to move off the bottom of the group and avenge a 2-1 defeat when the two teams met in Glasgow a fortnight ago.

"Going to Amsterdam is huge for us," Ambrose is quoted as saying by the Scottish Express.

"It'll be a deciding game for us – every one we play from now on is crucial, a cup final, to make the last 16. We know what we're up against and we know we have to get everything right.

"It's important to believe we can do it and we're working hard to achieve our goals. We know we can't write Ajax off though. They played good football against us at home, but they didn't take their chances. We took ours.

"They're a good side but the most important thing is for us to keep our heads straight and stay focused because we know if we lose it's all over. We don't want to let that happen.

"We're comfortable going there now, even though it won't be easy. But they know they can't lose the game if they have any chance to qualify. The better team will win the game, but I believe we're the better team."

Neil Lennon's side have lost their last two European away matches, in the play-offs at Shakhter Karagandy and against Milan on matchday one, but did emerge 3-1 victors on their last visit to Amsterdam in 2001.

A 1-1 draw at home to Dundee United on Saturday saw Celtic extend their unbeaten start to the league season to 11 matches, their longest streak since 2003-04, while Ajax lost 1-0 to Vitesse Arnhem.

Lennon will be without the services of Adam Matthews (broken collarbone) and Steve Mouyokolo (Achilles), but Georgios Samaras, Kris Commons, Mikael Lustig, Teemu Pukki and Beram Kayal could all return to the starting line-up. Nir Biton is suspended following his red card against Ajax last month.

Bojan Krkic (hamstring), Niklas Moisander (knee) and Lerin Duarte (ankle) are expected to be unavailable for Ajax.

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Head to Head
UEFA Champions League ‎(UCL)‎ Nov 6, 2013 Ajax 1 - Celtic 0
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UEFA Champions League ‎(UCL)‎ Oct 22, 2013 Celtic 2 - Ajax 1
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Club Friendlies ‎(FR)‎ Jul 21, 2012 Ajax 4 - Celtic 0
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Last Five Matches
Apr 20, 2014FC Zwolle 5 - Ajax 1NEDC
Apr 13, 2014Ajax 3 - ADO Den Haag 2NED1
Apr 6, 2014Vitesse 1 - Ajax 1NED1
Apr 2, 2014RKC 0 - Ajax 2NED1
Mar 30, 2014Ajax 3 - Twente 0NED1
Dec 11, 2013FC Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1UCL
Nov 26, 2013Celtic 0 - AC Milan 3UCL
Nov 6, 2013Ajax 1 - Celtic 0UCL
Oct 22, 2013Celtic 2 - Ajax 1UCL
Oct 1, 2013Celtic 0 - FC Barcelona 1UCL
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Available Squads
22Jasper CillessenGoalkeeper
34Ricardo van RhijnDefender
33Joël VeltmanDefender
15N. BoilesenDefender
17Daley BlindDefender
32Stefano DenswilDefender
10Siem de JongMidfielder
39Davy KlaassenMidfielder
20Lasse SchöneMidfielder
25Thulani SereroMidfielder
9Kolbeinn SigthórssonStriker
1Kenneth VermeerGoalkeeper
25Niklas MoisanderDefender
-Mike van der HoornDefender
5Christian PoulsenMidfielder
35Viktor FischerStriker
-Lucas AndersenStriker
-Danny HoesenStriker
1Fraser ForsterGoalkeeper
3E. IzaguirreDefender
15E. AmbroseDefender
-Virgil van DijkDefender
21Charles MulgrewDefender
2M. LustigDefender
15Kris CommonsMidfielder
33Beram KayalMidfielder
49James ForrestMidfielder
9Georgios SamarasStriker
10Anthony StokesStriker
24Lukasz ZaluskaGoalkeeper
-Darnell FisherDefender
28Joe LedleyMidfielder
-Tomas RogicMidfielder
21Derk BoerrigterStriker
-Amido BaldéStriker
20Teemu PukkiStriker
Group A Matchday 4
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