Ajax seek to avoid Amsterdam drama
Thursday, February 17, 2011
AFC Ajax and RSC Anderlecht resume their contest in Amsterdam as Belgium and the Netherlands' most successful clubs vie for a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
Article top media content
AFC Ajax will look to avoid a startling turnaround as RSC Anderlecht come to Amsterdam, smarting from a 3-0 home defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie.
• The outcome of the opener could have been different had Marcin Wasilewski – in one of several opportunities wasted by the hosts – not missed a 55th-minute penalty. By that time Anderlecht were trailing to a first-half header from Toby Alderweireld, Ajax's Belgian international defender, who set Christian Eriksen away for the second on 59 minutes. Mounir El Hamdaoui added a third eight minutes later, leaving Anderlecht with a mountain to climb.
• The sides met for the first time in a competitive fixture in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage. Their first meeting in Brussels ended in a 1-1 draw (in which the hosts' Jelle Van Damme was sent off), while Anderlecht won the return 3-1, albeit with Ajax already sure of qualifying for the knockout phase.
• That latter fixture was both clubs' 100th in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League.
• The teams for their most recent meeting, in Amsterdam on 17 December 2009, were:
Ajax: Stekelenburg*, Van der Wiel*, Oleguer*, Vertonghen*, Emanuelson, Pantelić, Sulejmani*, Enoh* (Rommedahl 59), De Jong* (De Zeeuw* 83), Anita*, Donald* (Luis Suárez 79).
Anderlecht: Proto*, Mazuch*, Deschacht*, Biglia*, Van Damme (Saré* 90), Boussoufa*, Legear* (Matías Suárez* 79), Kouyaté*, Juhász*, Gillet*, Lukaku* (Frutos 64).
*still with the club
• Ajax have played 13 games against Belgian opponents, including the 1987/88 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to KV Mechelen in Strasbourg. Their overall record reads W7 D2 L4 (W4 D0 L1 in Amsterdam). Anderlecht are the only Belgian side to have beaten – or indeed scored a goal against – Ajax at home.
• Including their ties against Ajax, Anderlecht have played 11 games against Dutch sides, with the impressive record W8 D2 L1 (W4 D1 L0 in the Netherlands). Last week's opening leg loss was their first against a club from over the border.
• Before the first leg, Anderlecht had lost just once in their last seven European home games, going down 3-1 to FC Zenit St Petersburg in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Anderlecht have not won in four continental fixtures on their travels since a 3-1 win against Welsh side The New Saints FC in this season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
• Anderlecht and Ajax are the footballing powerhouses of their respective nations; Anderlecht have won 30 Belgian titles, while Ajax have 29 league successes to their name in the Netherlands.
• Anderlecht go into the second leg as the most experienced European side left in the competition; this will be their 330th UEFA game. They are two wins short of a 150th victory from those fixtures.
•Ajax need two more goals to reach 200 in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League but are three shy of conceding their 100th in the two competitions. This is their 104th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League game.
• Ajax's squad features young Belgian defenders Jan Vertonghen and Alderweireld.
• Anderlecht's Amsterdam-born Moroccan international Mbark Boussoufa played in the Ajax youth department from 1996 until 2001, before joining Chelsea FC.
• The overall winners will take on the victors of the tie between FC Basel 1893 and FC Spartak Moskva in the round of 16 on 10 and 17 March, playing the first leg at home.