Ajax likely to employ cautious approach in visit to Austria
Dutch side hold advantage from first leg
Champions League second qualifying round
Ajax ran out comfortable winners in the first leg of their Champions League second-round qualifier against Sturm Graz but they could be tested by the hosts in Austria.
The Dutch side won 2-0 in Amsterdam courtesy of goals from Hakim Ziyech and Lasse Schone, although they should not underestimate Sturm Graz, who lost just three league matches at the Liebenauer Stadium last campaign.
The first-leg defeat was Sturm Graz’s first European away loss since 2012 and they head into the second leg buoyed by a 3-2 win over Hartberg in their opening league game of the season.
Austria are three places above Holland in Uefa club coefficient rankings and, with both sides having finished runners-up in their respective divisions last term, little separates them on paper.
Ajax have invested well this summer, recruiting Premier League duo Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind, but there is pressure on manager Erik ten Hag to perform after the club endured a trophyless 2017-18 campaign.
It’s important not to read too much into pre-season results but friendly defeats to Anderlecht, Walsall and Konyaspor have contributed to an atmosphere of increasing frustration at Ajax. They could set up cautiously in Graz in what they will likely view more as a must-not-lose as opposed to a must-win encounter.
1pt 27-10 Hills
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