AJAX 0-0 CHELSEA
Ajax XI: Onana, Dest, Veltman, Blind, Tagliafico, Martínez, Edson Álvarez, Ziyech, Van der Beek, Promes; Tadic
Chelsea XI: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi.
‘We faltered at first’
17:45: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, speaking to BT Sport: “A tough match first and foremost. Ajax have had two really good results, we faltered at first but had a good result against Lille. This is a tough place to come and we have to be at our best.
“This is a club that is steeped in tradition and young players are part of that again and again. We are in a new cycle and this is a good test for the young players taking their early steps in Champions League football.
“They lost a couple of big young players but they kept a lot. People may have expected them to lose more but they didn’t. I am under no illusions as to how difficult they will be – they were good last year and they are good this year.”
17:40: Surprisingly this will be the first meeting between the sides.
Ajax have painful memories of English opposition, though, having won just one of their last six matches at home to clubs from England.
The dramatic Champions League semi-final defeat by Tottenham last season is obviously still fresh in the memory as well.
Colin: Our fate hangs in the balance tonight in my opinion. I don’t see Valencia dropping points to Lille. Need a big performance from the team today and three points!
Nduvho: Ajax favourites tonight. More fluid, better understanding of those around them and mature this season after last season’s lessons. Going to be a tough game.
Sharan: Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi masterclass incoming. Ajax ain’t ready.
17:30: Erik ten Hag has been in charge of the Eredivisie champions since 2017, and led them to a domestic double last season while overseeing their famous run to the Champions League semi-finals.
The 49-year-old is probably the hottest managerial property in Europe right now but insists he is happy with the Amsterdam side.
Dusan Tadic flattered to deceive a little at Southampton but he is now captain of a resurgent Ajax team which was seconds from reaching last season’s Champions League final.
Tadic’s performances have seen him nominated for the 2019 Ballon D’Or – then again – Hugo Lloris was also nominated…
17:20: Frank Lampard has received plenty of plaudits for the way he has blooded Chelsea’s youngsters this season, but he knows they are facing the masters of youth development.
The Blues, featuring academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori, have racked up five consecutive wins in all competitions and climbed into the top four after Saturday’s victory over Newcastle.
However, Ajax have long been famed for their youth policy and last season that exuberance swept them all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League, where they were agonisingly pipped by Tottenham.
“There’s a long way to go to claim there are similarities,” Lampard said. “We have pride in the short term, but we shouldn’t get carried away. It’s great, the good feeling at the club in terms of the young players that have come through.”
Omg: Happy to see from three of Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. Was expecting Reece James and Emerson in the full-back positions. Come on Chelsea!
Martin: Don’t get me wrong, this season’s Chelsea team is full of promise and we will surprise a lot of people. However Ajax are probably going to give us a schooling tonight!
Simon: Frank Lampard is clearly playing the favouritism game with Mason Mount! Why should these boys feel untouchable? I was expecting Olivier Giroud or Michy Batshuayi start today.
That’s the spirit, Martin…
‘You look scared’
17:10: Well wasn’t this a laugh out loud moment. I refuse to abbreviate that to LOL for humanitarian reasons.
In yesterday’s press conference, a Dutch journalist asked why Frank Lampard looked scared and intimidated by Ajax.
However, the Chelsea legend brushed that comment off with a cheeky remark of his own claiming that “is just my face”.
I often give that response when people ask why I’m scowling all the time…
Team news – Chelsea
17:05: Mateo Kovacic returns to the Chelsea starting line-up for the Group H clash with Ajax in Amsterdam.
The Croatia midfielder is handed a first start since the 2-1 defeat by Liverpool last month in the absence of injured duo Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante.
Boss Frank Lampard keeps faith with youngsters Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi against last season’s semi-finalists.
Couldn’t tell you the Ajax changes I’m afraid – but it looks one hell of a starting XI. Hope that will suffice…
17:00: I certainly though Group H would be the most competitive and entertaining when the draw was made a few months ago.
Ajax, Valencia, Chelsea and Lille are known to be attacking, creating and dare I say a little gung ho in their styles.
It’s shaping up nicely too. Ajax lead the way with maximum points from their opening two fixtures. A win tonight and you have to think everyone else is playing for second position.
Chelsea and Valencia are tied on three points each while Nicolas Pepe-less Lille are yet to get off the mark.
16:50: The maths doesn’t add up.
Ajax lost £185million of players over the summer with key dup Frenkie De Jong and Matthias De Light leaving the club and they reinvested just £50m.
So far this season they are unbeaten in 16 and creating more chances than ever. What the heck are they doing over there in Holland?!
16:45: Fair play, both sides have been very prompt announcing their starting XI’s. That’s a dream for a live blogger like myself.
Ajax XI: Onana, Dest, Veltman, Blind, Tagliafico, Martínez, Edson Alvarez, Ziyech, Van der Beek, Promes; Tadic
Subs: Varela, Schuurs, Neres, Huntelaar, Mazraoui, De Jong, Marin
Chelsea XI: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi
Subs: Caballero, James, Emerson, Gilmour, Pulisic, Giroud, Batshuayi
16:35: Eight fixtures are on offer this evening as we reach the halfway point of the Champions League group stages.
Obviously Chelsea’s trip to Ajax is an early kick off, as is RB Leipzig’s cash with Zenit. I’m feeling something of a goal frenzy in these.
Benfica vs Lyon, Genk vs Liverpool, Inter Milan vs Borussia Dortmund, Lille vs Valencia, RB Salzburg vs Napoli and Slavia Prague vs Barcelona are the remaining six evening games.
16:30: Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the Champions League.
What an absolute treat we have in store today as one of the most exciting, youthful and homegrown sides in Europe take on Ajax…
Been a while since we’ve been able to say that, eh?
Frank Lampard has received plenty of plaudits for the way he has blooded Chelsea’s youngsters this season – but Ajax are kinda the masters of youth development.
Should be a very interesting match indeed. Standby for team news and line ups.
AJAX vs CHELSEA
Chelsea will be without Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kante, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger for their Champions League game at Ajax on Wednesday.
Barkley suffered an ankle injury in Saturday’s win over Newcastle and the England international was substituted shortly before half-time.
Kante sustained a groin injury while on international duty with France, but was still included on the bench for the second game of a double-header, much to the annoyance of Blues manager Frank Lampard.
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