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Benfica vs Ajax in the Champions League on Feb 23. 2022 - Odds & Prediction

Benfica vs Ajax in the Champions League on Feb 23. 2022 - Odds & Prediction

These two may not quite have the standing they once had in Europe but both Benfica and Ajax are still big names on the continent, and they make for an intriguing Champions League clash on Wednesday night.

It’s been a forgettable domestic season for Benfica, but the Portuguese giants battled superbly to squeeze through a group containing the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Ajax, meanwhile, made light work of a tricky group that featured wily customers Sporting, Borussia Dortmund and Besiktas.

The Dutchmen are also in superb form in the Eredivisie, so we think this is a great opportunity for them to plant one foot in the quarter finals.

  • Kindly note that all information in this preview, including whether or not the event will take place, is subject to change due to Covid-19.
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Ajax to Win

The nature in which Ajax qualified for the knockout rounds plays a huge part in our thinking here.

Erik ten Hag’s men completely dismantled their group, winning all six of their group games and scoring 20 goals in the process.

It was much scrappier for Benfica, though, who required a victory over Dynamo Kiev, as well as a favour from Bayern Munich, to secure their passage.

It’s just two wins in five for the Lisbon side and no clean sheets at all in their last six, so we think Ajax can take advantage with a victory that can be picked up at odds of around 9/10 with Sportnation and with the most popular sports betting sites.

Benfica Form, squad news, opinion

The Primeira Liga title already looks beyond Benfica, with Nelson Verissimo’s side sitting nine points behind Porto, who remain unbeaten after 22 games.

But goals aren’t a problem for this side, having scored 60 in the league already this season, but they do average almost exactly one concession a game, which is pretty poor going when you consider the standard of the Portuguese top flight outside of the big three.

And it’s perhaps fair to suggest that they’re at this stage of the Champions League because of the poor performances of Barcelona. Benfica were hammered twice in the space of a fortnight by group winners Bayern and also failed to win away in Kiev on matchday one.

But they will be hoping their recent form against Dutch opposition will stand them in good stead, having beaten Ajax’s bitter rivals PSV over two legs in the final qualification round back in August.

The most notable injury absentee for this one is likely to be Haris Seferovic, with the Swiss forward missing with a leg injury. Centre back Lucas Verissimo remains out with a serious knee issue.

Ajax Form, squad news, opinion

It was a Champions League group packed with potential banana skins, but the way in which Ajax ripped through the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Sporting certainly turned a few heads.

Home and away victories over Dortmund were particularly impressive, with the Eredivisie champions notching up 4-0 and 3-1 wins that will have them feeling confident that they can outscore any side remaining in the competition.

And their form across the board has been nothing short of sensational. At the time of writing, Ajax have won 16 of their last 17 matches in all competitions and have won all of their last four without conceding a goal.

It’s also worth keeping in mind the form of former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller, who is in the best form of his life, with 27 goals already this season, including ten during the Champions League group stages.

The Ivory Coast forward will be fit for this one, and ten Hag has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the Portuguese capital.

History

This will be the fifth time these two have faced off, with the last four taking place within the last 13 years.

Benfica have the slight upper hand with two victories, with Ajax picking up one of their own, while their most recent meeting in 2018 ended all square.

About the Venue

The Estadio da Luz, or the Stadium of Light to you and me, has been Benfica’s home since October of 2003.

But the 65,000 capacity crowd has only seen one home clean sheet in 2022, providing further fuel to our hopes that Ajax can make hay on the goals front.

Conclusion

There isn’t going to be a great deal to separate these two, but Ajax are in a much better place as far as their domestic and European form goes, so we make them the value bet for this one.

Benfica are certainly no mugs, but with the Dutch side scoring goals freely and the Portuguese outfit struggling for clean sheets, we’ve just got to go with an away win here that will put Ajax in control of the tie.

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