Champions League: Babangida believes Valencia is a greater threat to Ajax than Chelsea

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The ex-Nigeria international has selected the most dangerous team that stands in the way of the Dutch giants' progress in the group stage

Ahead of Tuesday's Uefa Champions League opener against Lille, former Ajax winger Tijani Babangida has picked Valencia has the main threat in Group H for Erik ten Hag's side.

Ajax will be looking to start their campaign on a winning note with the aim of matching and surpassing last season's feat in the elite European tournament where they were knocked out in the semi-final by Tottenham Hotspur.

In their bid to progress to the next round, the Dutch outfit needs to negotiate their way past group opponents Chelsea, Lille and Valencia.

Babangida who enjoyed a successful seven-year stint in Amsterdam with the Sons of Gods sees the Spanish La Liga club as Ajax's biggest rival in the group.

"I think they will lead it with Valencia. Of course, Chelsea is not a pushover but it is always the Spanish football clubs that give the Dutch a big problem," Babangida told Goal.

"The Dutch have an edge over English football because of their patience and planning of the game from behind. I think Ajax will be the favourites in the group.

"Valencia will be Ajax's most difficult opponent in the group because they always have problems with Spanish football but we want to get to the final and win the Cup because that's what is in the minds of the players."

Tijani PS

Ajax host French Ligue 1 outfit Lille for their Champions League opener at Johan Cryuff Arena on Tuesday.

Since the start of the new season, the reigning Dutch champions are yet to lose a game in the Eredivisie, maintaining a five-match unbeaten streak, a run the former Nigeria international has cited as an advantage.

"Football is full of surprises but I think the prediction I will make is that Ajax will outrun the day," he added.

"I think Ajax for this moment are doing very well in the league. So if any team is going to play them, they should look at their last two or three matches. On paper and physically with what we are seeing, Ajax are going to be the favourite side."

Despite his off-field commitments, the 45-year-old said he still he monitors the progress of Ajax as a team and individual performances.

Babangida singled out Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana and Morocco playmaker Hakim Ziyech for their impact in Ten Hag's team.

"I think they [Onana and Ziyech] are very important because I saw two of their live games in Amsterdam last season and I saw how well Onana was doing," he continued.

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"Onana fits directly into the system of Ajax because he can play with both legs and Ajax always try to start their football from behind and Onana is one of the key players who does that and needs to play, so that is a very important one.

"Ziyech is a very regular player in that team and a scorer as well with his left leg. I think the duo are very important players."

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