Borussia Dortmund - Ajax Preview: German and Dutch champions clash at Signal Iduna Park
In a group containing Real Madrid and Manchester City, both of these sides will look to commence their campaigns with victory
By Stefan Coerts
Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer
Kuba, Gotze, Reus
Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Moisander, Blind
De Jong, Eriksen, Poulsen
Sana, Babel, Boerigter
Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has a full squad to pick from as he does not have any injury worries. Sven Bender has yet to play a minute of football this season after hernia surgery, but has been included in the match squad for Tuesday's encounter.
Star signing Marco Reus started this weekend's 3-0 Bundesliga win over Bayer Leverkusen from the bench as a precautionary measure, but is expected to return to the starting XI for the match versus Ajax.
The Germany international's return could mean that Kevin Grosskreutz is demoted the bench, with Kuba, Mario Gotze and Reus as BVB's creative line behind lone striker Robert Lewandowski.
Meanwhile, Ajax boss Frank de Boer will have to make do without the services of a number of first team regulars as Nicolai Boilesen, Eyong Enoh and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson are all unavailable due to injury.
De Boer is not likely to make many changes to the team that recorded a hard-fought win over RKC on Saturday, with Daley Blind expected to get the nod ahead of Mitchell Dijks once more at left-back.
Nevertheless, attacker Ryan Babel could be in line for his first starting berth since his return, meaning that Siem de Jong would drop back into midfield at the expense of Lasse Schone.
Thulani Serero missed the win over RKC due to suspension, but has been included in the squad for Tuesday's Champions League opener.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Borussia Dortmund collected only four points from six encounters in last year's edition of the Champions League as it crashed out in the group stages.
- BVB and Ajax have met two times before. Both sides locked horns in the Champions League quarter-finals in 1995-96, with the Dutch side winning both away and at home.
- Marco Reus (pictured) will make his Champions League debut on Tuesday.
- Ajax has not survived the Champions League group stage since 2005-06, when it was beaten by Inter in the round of 16.
- Ryan Babel is his side's most experienced player in European club football's elite competition with 32 appearances, scoring seven goals in the process.
- Former Denmark international Christian Poulsen, who joined on a free transfer this summer, is the only player older than 30 in Ajax's young Champions League squad.
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Top 3 Predictions
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Ajax
- 17.27 %
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Ajax
- 13.57 %
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Ajax
- 13.11 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 21, 2012||Ajax 1 - Borussia Dortmund 4|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 18, 2012||Borussia Dortmund 1 - Ajax 0|
|Dec 7, 2013||Borussia Dortmund 0 - Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1||GER1|
|Dec 3, 2013||1. FC Saarbrücken 0 - Borussia Dortmund 2||GERC|
|Nov 30, 2013||Mainz 1 - Borussia Dortmund 3||GER1|
|Nov 26, 2013||Borussia Dortmund 3 - SSC Napoli 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Borussia Dortmund 0 - FC Bayern München 3||GER1|
|34||Ricardo van Rhijn||Defender|
|10||Siem de Jong||Midfielder|
Kuba has been simply outstanding in the opening weeks of the 2012-13 campaign and his pace and power could prove to be vital in Tuesday's encounter. The Poland international netted once versus Leverkusen, and will be eager to show what he's capable of at the highest level, too. If the winger can replicate last weekend's performance, Ajax full-back Daley Blind could be in for a difficult evening.
The winger joined Ajax this summer after they failed to sign Luciano Narsingh, and Sana has not disappointed in his first weeks in Amsterdam. His willingness to take on opponents and cause havoc with his silky dribbles have quickly helped him become a fans' favourite, and the winger will be looking to further impress against Dortmund.
Dortmund showed on Saturday that they're in fine form as they put in a good performance against Leverkusen, whereas Ajax struggled versus RKC. BVB will therefore start the game as favourites, and will fancy their chances of bagging the full three points at home. The German champions have some fine attacking talent with the likes of Mario Gotze and Marco Reus among others, and their individual class is likely to prove too much for the vulnerable Ajax defence.