29 August 2019
A goalless draw in the first leg has left Ajax and APOEL with everything to play for at the Johan Cruyff Arena in the return leg of their Champions League (CL) play-offs tie.
Only last year, the Lancers started their CL campaign in the second qualifying round, making it all the way to the semi-finals where Tottenham came off better on the away goal rule. This year, their road to the CL group stage begun in the third qualifying round where they’ve edged past the Greek outfit PAOK 5-4 on aggregate (2-2 A, 3-2 H). As a result, the reigning Eredivisie holders have just two defeats in their last 18 European outings (W10, D6, L2). Another thing Erik ten Hag can count on is that Ajax have never lost to APOEL even though they are now going to face the Cypriot side for the fourth time in history (W1, D2). The last times these two sides met here was in the 2014/15 CL group stage, with Ajax pulling off a commanding 4-0 victory.
As for the visitors, they are chasing their second CL group stage appearance in three years after missing out on the European football last year. A shock defeat to Suduva in the first CL qualifying round last season forced APOEL to the Europa League play-offs where Astana left them empty-handed. However, Τhrylos managed to turn their fortune around this year, dumping out the Montenegrian side Sutjeska 4-0 on aggregate (1-0 a, 3-0 h) before performing a stunning second-leg comeback to edge past Qarabag in the third qualifying round (1-2 H, 2-0 A) to set up this tie. Thomas Doll’s players have, therefore, managed to put an end to their nine-game winless drought in European trips (D3, L6) with back-to-back away wins in the ongoing qualifiers.
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