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Liverpool vs Ajax: UEFA Champions League background, form guide, previous meetings

An unexpected home defeat has threatened Liverpool's Group D dominance, although the English champions could still qualify as Ajax visit.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah pursued by Ajax's Carel Eiting
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah pursued by Ajax's Carel Eiting Getty Images

A shock home defeat has threatened Liverpool’s dominance in Group D, with Ajax and Atalanta closing in, but the English champions are still in a position to book their place in the knockout rounds on Matchday 5.

• The six-time European champions went down 2-0 at home to Atalanta in the fourth round of fixtures, their first group stage defeat at Anfield in more than six years, but remain top of Group D on nine points, two ahead of both Atalanta and Ajax with eliminated Midtjylland yet to get off the mark.

• A win against the Dutch side, who lost the reverse fixture in Amsterdam on Matchday 1 1-0 due to a Nicolás Tagliafico own goal, would therefore ensure Liverpool reach the round of 16 for the fourth season in a row.

Previous meetings

Highlights: Ajax 0-1 Liverpool
Highlights: Ajax 0-1 Liverpool

• Surprisingly given their prestigious European histories, the clubs had met in only one previous UEFA tie before this season, Ajax recording a 7-3 aggregate win in the 1966/67 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round. The Dutch side were 5-1 winners in Amsterdam before a 2-2 draw at Anfield, Johan Cruyff scoring three goals across the tie including two in England.

Form guide
Liverpool
• The Reds won their first three games in this season's competition without conceding, beating Ajax and Atalanta (5-0) away and Midtjylland at home (2-0). The defeat by the Italian side last time out was their first group stage reverse at Anfield since October 2014, a run of ten matches (W7 D3).

• Liverpool were champions of England for the 19th time in 2019/20, their first league title since 1990.

• The Reds are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 13th time; they have only failed to progress to the last 16 or further three times.

• Jürgen Klopp's side finished top of Group E in 2019/20, recovering from losing their opening fixture 2-0 at Napoli to advance with 13 points ahead of the Italian club. They sealed progress on Matchday 6 with a 2-0 victory at Salzburg.

• Liverpool had won their sixth European Cup in 2018/19, but their defence of the trophy came to a halt in the round of 16, Atlético de Madrid winning 1-0 in Spain and, after extra time, 3-2 at Anfield. The latter result ended Liverpool's 25-match unbeaten home run in Europe (W18 D7), since a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid on 22 October 2014, and was their first aggregate defeat in 12 two-legged knockout ties.

• The Matchday 4 defeat by Atalanta this season made it two losses in Liverpool's last three European games at Anfield (W1).

• Liverpool have won 12 of their last 19 European fixtures (D2 L5).

• That defeat at Ajax in 1966, in what was Liverpool's first game against a Dutch club, remains the Reds' only loss against Eredivisie opponents. Their record since is W9 D5 – W5 D2 at home.

• Liverpool's five-game winning streak at home to Dutch visitors was ended in their most recent fixture, a goalless draw against Utrecht in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Matchday 1 made it three successive clean sheets against Dutch clubs for the Reds, although they have scored only one goal themselves in those fixtures – and that an own goal.

Ajax
• Ajax picked up their first points in Group D on Matchday 2 with a 2-2 draw at Atalanta – a match in which they led 2-0 – before beating Midtjylland 2-1 in Denmark and 3-1 in the Netherlands.

• Ajax are making their 16th appearance in the group stage, matching PSV Eindhoven's Dutch record. It is their third straight appearance in the UEFA Champions League proper, and the first time they have gained automatic qualification since 2014/15.

• Ajax were Dutch champions for the 34th time in 2018/19 – their first league title since 2014 – and also lifted the Dutch Cup to claim their eighth domestic double, and a first since 2002. No league title was awarded last season.

• Ajax have qualified from their UEFA Champions League group only once in their last seven appearances in the competition.

• Having gone all the way from the second qualifying round to the semi-finals in 2018/19 – the first Dutch side to reach the last four since PSV in 2004/05 – Ajax again came through two qualifying rounds to reach the 2019/20 group stage, but advanced no further after finishing third in their section behind Valencia and Chelsea. Erik ten Hag's team won their first two matches and picked up ten points (W3 D1 L2) but a 1-0 home defeat against the Spanish side on Matchday 6 proved costly.

• Ajax's subsequent UEFA Europa League campaign also proved short-lived; they lost to Getafe in the round of 32 (0-2 a, 2-1 h).

• The Amsterdam club won six of their 12 European matches in 2019/20 (D3 L3).

• Ajax picked up seven points away from home in last season's group stage and are now unbeaten in 11 away matches in the UEFA Champions League (W7 D4). Including the competition's qualifying phase, their unbeaten run on the road stretches to 17 matches (W8 D9).

• Ajax's last trip to England proved eventful, a 4-4 draw at Chelsea in last season's group stage that they ended with nine men and in which they had been 4-1 up. The Amsterdam club have not lost in their last four visits to England; a 2-1 reverse at Aston Villa in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage is Ajax's sole defeat in their last seven trips (W2 D4).

• However, the 1-0 victory at Spurs in the 2018/19 semi-final first leg – a tie Ajax went on to lose on away goals, going down 3-2 at home having led 2-0 – was only Ajax's third away to English clubs in their 13 visits (D6 L4). A 2-1 win at Manchester United in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 32 ended a 40-year wait for an away victory over English opponents, although it failed to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

• Ajax also lost the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League final to United, going down 2-0 in Stockholm.

• Ajax claimed their first European Cup in England, beating Panathinaikos 2-0 in the 1971 final at Wembley.

Links and trivia
• Klopp's Borussia Dortmund were 4-1 winners in Amsterdam during the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage; the German side had also beaten Ajax 1-0 at home.

• Have played in the Netherlands:
Virgil van Dijk (Groningen 2011–13)
Georginio Wijnaldum (Feyenoord 2007–11, PSV Eindhoven 2011–15)

• Have played in England:
Daley Blind (Manchester United 2014–18)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham 2013/14, Southampton 2015/16 loan, Everton 2016–20)
Davy Klaassen (Everton 2017/18)
Dušan Tadić (Southampton 2014–18)

• Have played together:
Virgil van Dijk & Dušan Tadić (Southampton 2015–17)
Virgil van Dijk & Maarten Stekelenburg (Southampton 2015/16)

• International team-mates:
Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum & Daley Blind, Quincy Promes (Netherlands)
Fabinho, Alisson, Roberto Firmino & David Neres (Brazil)

• Promes scored the Netherlands' third goal in a 3-1 extra-time defeat of England in the 2019 UEFA Nations League semi-final; Jordan Henderson was a second-half substitute for England.

Latest news

Liverpool
• Diogo Jota became the first Liverpool player to score in his first four home top-flight appearances with his goal in a 3-0 Premier League win against Leicester at Anfield on 22 November.

• That made it 64 home league games unbeaten for Liverpool (W53 D11), setting a new club record by beating the mark set in December 1980.

• Liverpool's five-match winning run in all competitions was ended by a 1-1 draw at Manchester City on 8 November. They were unbeaten in eight games (W6 D2) before losing to Atalanta.

• Jota made it eight goals in his last eight games for Liverpool with a goal at Brighton on Saturday, but an added-time penalty equaliser meant they had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

• The Reds have already dropped six points from winning positions this season, one more than in the whole of the 2019/20 Premier League.

• The Premier League champions won their first three games of the new league season but then suffered a remarkable defeat in their fourth, losing 7-2 at Aston Villa on 4 October. It was the first time Liverpool had conceded seven goals in a game since April 1963, in a 7-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

• Liverpool were also the first reigning English champions to concede seven goals in a league match since September 1953, when Arsenal lost 7-1 at Sunderland.

• Liverpool finished 18 points clear of Manchester City in last season's Premier League and won 26 of their first 27 matches; they did not suffer a first defeat until their 28th game, going down 3-0 at Watford on 29 February.

• On 17 October Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool's second in the 2-2 derby draw at Everton, his 100th goal for the club on his 159th appearance. Only Roger Hunt (144 games) and Jack Parkinson (153) have reached the mark for the Reds in fewer matches.

• Jürgen Klopp's side have conceded 22 goals in their 17 games in all competitions this season; three of their six clean sheets have come in the UEFA Champions League.

• Liverpool have twice lost 5-4 on penalties to Arsenal this season; at Wembley in the Community Shield on 29 August (after a 1-1 draw) and at Anfield in the last 16 of the English League Cup on 1 October (0-0).

• On 12 November, Andy Robertson captained Scotland as they beat Serbia on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their UEFA EURO 2020 play-off final in Belgrade to reach next summer's finals.

• Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in the Netherlands' 3-1 UEFA Nations League victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina on 15 November and then hit a late winner in a 2-1 victory against Poland three days later.

• On 15 November Sadio Mané's late winner gave Senegal a 1-0 victory at home to Guinea-Bissau that booked their place in the 2021 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals; the same day, Naby Keïta was on target in Guinea's 1-1 draw against Chad.

• Roberto Firmino's goal gave Brazil a 1-0 victory against Venezuela in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying on 13 November, when a Takumi Minamino penalty earned Japan a 1-0 friendly win against Panama.

• Also on 13 November, Curtis Jones scored his first goal for England's Under-21 side in a 3-1 UEFA European Championship qualifying win against Andorra.

• Jordan Henderson was withdrawn at half-time in England's 2-0 UEFA Nations League defeat in Belgium on 15 November with a thigh injury, returning as a half-time substitute on Saturday.

• James Milner went off injured in the second half at Brighton.

• Joe Gomez damaged a tendon in his left knee in training with England on 11 November and underwent surgery the following day. He is expected to be sidelined for several months.

• Trent Alexander-Arnold was substituted just past the hour against Manchester City with a calf problem and has not played since.

• Naby Keïta had to be replaced early in the second half against Leicester with a thigh injury; he has also not featured since.

• Virgil van Dijk is facing a long spell on the sidelines after sustaining a serious knee injury at Everton.

• Thiago also picked up a knee problem at Everton and has not played since.

• Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been out since 26 July due to a knee injury.

• On 8 October Klopp celebrated five years at Liverpool manager; his 60% win ratio at that stage is the best in the club's history.

Ajax
• Ajax have won their last six games in all competitions, and seven of the last eight (D1). They have scored 23 goals in that six-match winning run, conceding four, and were 5-0 victors at Emmen on Saturday.

• Saturday's win means Ajax have now scored 42 goals in their first ten Eredivisie matches this season, a new club record, three more than the 39 at the same stage of 1980/81. Twenty-seven points from ten matches also equalled their best start to a league season, matching the 2006/07 total.

• Ajax's last eight goals have been scored by eight different players.

• Dušan Tadić had found the net in six successive Ajax games before drawing a blank on Matchday 4.

• Ajax have been victorious in nine of their ten league matches this season, the exception a 1-0 loss at Groningen on 4 October. That was their fourth match of the new Eredivisie campaign; in 2019/20, they were undefeated until their 16th fixture.

• On 24 October Ajax recorded a record Eredivisie victory, winning 13-0 at VVV-Venlo. They were the first team ever to score 13 goals in a Dutch top-flight game, beating their 12-1 win against Vitesse in May 1972, and the first Dutch club to hit double figures in an Eredivisie match since PSV Eindhoven beat Feyenoord 10-0 on 24 October 2010, exactly ten years previously.

• Lassina Traoré scored five goals at VVV, the first Ajax player to do so in an Eredivisie game since Marco van Basten hit six in 1985. Traoré also provided three assists; Frenkie de Jong had been the last Ajax player to do so in a league match, in 2017.

• Traoré had last scored for Ajax on 16 February; prior to the VVV game, his 15 Eredivisie appearances had yielded two goals. He has scored in Ajax's last two league matches.

• Having lost four of their last six matches in all competitions in 2019/20 (W2), Ajax have suffered six defeats in their last 20 games, with the Atalanta fixture on Matchday 2 the only draw in that sequence.

• Traoré scored twice in Burkina Faso's 3-1 victory over Malawi in CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying on 12 November.

• Despite Tadić scoring his penalty, Serbia lost the shoot-out 5-4 to Scotland in the UEFA EURO 2020 play-off final after a 1-1 draw in Belgrade, also on 12 November.

• Daley Blind picked up a hamstring injury against Midtjylland and was replaced midway through the second half, sitting out Saturday's Eredivisie match.

• Summer signing Mohammed Kudus had to be substituted early on against Liverpool on Matchday 1 after injuring his right knee and is not expected to play again this year after surgery.

• Antony injured his hamstring during the 3-0 victory over Utrecht on 8 November, making his comeback on Saturday.

• David Neres returned as a substitute on the opening day of the Eredivisie season, a 1-0 win at Sparta Rotterdam on 13 September, having not played since suffering a knee injury on Matchday 4 of last season's UEFA Champions League, a 4-4 draw at Chelsea on 5 November 2019. He scored in the 5-0 win against Heracles Almelo on 22 November, his first goal since 1 November 2019, and was also on target against Midtjylland.