AEK Athens and Ajax have contrasting targets when they meet in Greece, but both need victory.
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AEK Athens and Ajax both need a win but for very different reasons when they meet in Greece in the penultimate round of Group E fixtures.
• While unbeaten Ajax sit second in the standings, their 3-0 matchday one win against the Greek side – achieved thanks to second-half goals from Nicolás Tagliafico (2) and Donny van de Beek – was the first of four defeats for AEK, who can no longer finish in the top two.
• Ajax, who hold a four-point advantage over third-placed Benfica, will be through to the round of 16 for the first time in 13 years with a victory or if Benfica fail to win away to section leaders Bayern München. AEK can still overtake Benfica but need to get to within three points of the Portuguese club before they face off in Lisbon on matchday six.
• The sides' only fixtures before this season came in the group stage of Ajax's victorious 1994/95 UEFA Champions League campaign. The Dutch side won both fixtures, recording a 2-1 away victory in September 1994 and a 2-0 win in Amsterdam in December.
• Edwin van der Sar and Marc Overmars – now Ajax's general director and director of player affairs respectively – played in both games. Danny Blind, father of Daley, was the Ajax captain for both matches.
• After being beaten at Ajax, AEK went down 2-3 at home to Benfica on matchday two before home and away defeats by Bayern, both 0-2. The current four-match losing streak is AEK's longest run of defeats in Europe since autumn 2011, when they suffered five straight reverses.
• The Athens clubs have won only one of their last eight home European fixtures (D5 L2).
• AEK were 14 European games unbeaten (W4 D10), home and away, before the loss at Ajax.
• This is AEK's fifth UEFA Champions League group campaign, and all have ended at this stage. Their last appearance came in 2006/07, when they were unbeaten at home, picking up seven points in Athens and beating LOSC Lille and eventual champions AC Milan 1-0.
• AEK have lost seven of their nine matches against Dutch clubs, winning one and drawing one; matchday one was their third successive defeat, all without scoring. At home their record is W1 D1 L2.
• Greek champions for the 12th time in 2017/18 – their first championship success since 1994 – AEK entered this season's UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round, where they defeated Celtic 3-2 on aggregate (1-1 away, 2-1 home) to reach the play-offs. There they overcame Hungarian club Vidi 3-2 over two games (2-1 away, 1-1 home).
• The home win against Celtic ended AEK's run of eight successive draws in European competition.
• Last season AEK lost to CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round and moved into the UEFA Europa League, where they were ultimately eliminated by Dynamo Kyiv in the round of 32 despite avoiding defeat in all ten of their matches in the competition (W2 D8).
• After beating AEK in Amsterdam, Ajax produced another creditable performance on matchday two to earn a 1-1 draw at Bayern. They then took four points off Benfica thanks to a 1-0 home success and 1-1 away draw.
• Second in the Eredivisie last season, Ajax are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time, but the first since 2014/15. Then their campaign ended in the group stage, for the fifth year in a row; they have not progressed from their section since 2005/06.
• Ajax's 2017/18 European campaign lasted only two ties, losing to Nice in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round before a 4-2 aggregate defeat against Rosenborg (0-1 home, 2-3 away) that extended their winless run in continental competition to six matches (D2 L4).
• However, Ajax are unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19 – a run of ten matches. Before the group stage they beat Sturm Graz home (2-0) and away (3-1) in the second qualifying round and Standard Liège 5-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round (2-2 away, 3-0 home) before overcoming Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 in the play-offs (3-1 home, 0-0 away).
• The 3-1 win at Sturm ended Ajax's eight-match run without a European away win (D4 L4); they have drawn all four away games since.
• Ajax have not won away in the UEFA Champions League group stage since a 2-0 success at Dinamo Zagreb in October 2011; their subsequent record is D6 L6.
• Ajax have won ten of their 18 games against Greek opposition (D5 L3); matchday one was their fourth successive victory and stretched their unbeaten run to eight games. The Amsterdamers have won their last two games in Greece.
Links and trivia
• Current AEK coach Marinos Ouzounidis was in the Panathinaikos side that won 1-0 at Ajax in the 1995/96 UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. He was an unused substitute in the Greens' 3-0 home defeat in the second leg, the first time a side had won a knockout phase tie after losing the first game at home; it has still only happened twice.
• Ajax striker Kaj Sierhuis was born in Athens on 27 April 1998. His father Cock Sierhuis was AEK chairman for two years before the family returned to the Netherlands in 2001.
• Ajax striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has scored against Olympiacos, Asteras Tripolis and PAOK in UEFA competition for Schalke.
• Ajax reserve goalkeeper Kostas Lamprou played with AEK pair Petros Mantalos and Michalis Bakakis at youth level for Greece. Lamprou was born in Athens, moving to Ajax aged 13.
• AEK are without a win in their last four matches in all competitions (D1 L3), and had not scored in three games before Saturday's 2-1 loss at Panaitolikos.
• That three-game run without a goal is AEK's longest non-scoring run since the first three matches of the 2017/18 campaign.
• The Athens club were beaten 2-0 at home by Atromitos on 11 November despite hitting the woodwork three times. It was their first home league defeat since a 1-0 reverse against the same opponents on 23 October 2017.
• Marios Oikonomou suffered a knee ligament injury during the goalless draw with Panathinaikos on 3 November and is expected to be sidelined until mid-December.
• Viktor Klonaridis suffers from tendonitis in the right knee and had been training alone since 6 November, although he came on for the last 30 minutes on Saturday.
• Hélder Lopes underwent surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee against OFI Crete on 29 September. He is expected to return to action in spring 2019.
• Vasilis Lampropoulos marked his competitive debut for Greece with an own goal in a 1-0 UEFA Nations League defeat by Estonia on 18 November.
• Ajax's 15-match unbeaten run (W12 D3) in all competitions stretching back to 15 April was ended by a 3-0 Eredivisie defeat at PSV Eindhoven on 23 September, halting a four-match winning league streak. That is their only defeat of the season in all competitions (W19 D5); Ajax won 3-0 at NAC Breda on Saturday.
• The Amsterdam club were 7-1 winners at Excelsior in the Eredivisie on 11 November, the second time they have scored seven goals in a game this season.
• Ajax had kept six successive clean sheets in all competitions, winning every match and scoring 18 goals in the process, before matchday four. They have conceded only three times in their last 12 fixtures in all competitions.
• Erik ten Hag's side have kept 17 clean sheets in 25 matches this season.
• Hakim Ziyech has scored five goals in six Eredivisie games, and sat out Saturday's fixture; Kasper Dolberg has five goals in his last seven league appearances.
• The 2-0 home victory over Willem II on 3 November equalled a club record for eight successive home clean sheets, matching the marks of 1971 and 2008. Ajax could break the record against Den Haag on 2 December.
• Ryan Gravenberch – who had become the club's youngest player with his appearance against PSV three days earlier – became Ajax's youngest ever scorer at the age of 16 years 133 days with his Dutch Cup goal against Te Werve on 26 September. The teenager succeeds Clarence Seedorf, who was 16 years 361 days when he scored on 28 March 1993 against Vitesse.
• Ajax's new signing Hassane Bandé is expected to be out until the winter break after suffering a calf injury in a friendly against Anderlecht in early July. Joël Veltman has not played since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on 19 April.
• Dušan Tadić set up the first goal in Serbia's 2-1 victory against Montenegro in the UEFA Nations League on 17 November.
• Lasse Schöne and substitute Dolberg helped Denmark to a promotion-clinching 2-1 UEFA Nations League win in Wales on 16 November. Three days later Schöne was named man of the match in a 0-0 home draw against the Republic of Ireland.
• Frenkie de Jong won a penalty in the Netherlands' 2-0 UEFA Nations League victory against France, Daley Blind and Matthijs de Ligt also appearing on 16 November. Three days later all three started the 2-2 draw in Germany that took the Dutch into the Finals.
• On 16 November Ziyech got both goals as Morocco beat Cameroon in CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, scoring past club-mate goalkeeper Andre Onana in the Cameroon goal; Noussair Mazraoui also started for Morocco. Ziyech missed the 20 November friendly against Tunisia with a knee injury and was also absent at NAC.