Ajax vs. Atalanta Champions League Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions (Wednesday, Dec. 9)
Photo by Peter Byrne/Pool/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Ajax captain Dušan Tadić, left, playing against Liverpool.
- Two of Europe's most potent offenses will meet on Tuesday afternoon as Ajax hosts Atalanta at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam.
- Ajax are slight favorites to get the win over Atalanta, but the high over/under suggests that this will be a see-saw match with plenty of excitement.
- Jeremy Pond previews Ajax vs. Atalanta below.
Ajax vs. Atalanta Odds
|Ajax Odds||+128 [BET NOW]|
|Atalanta Odds||+185 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+295 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 12:55 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS All Access | fuboTV|
Someone will punch their ticket to the Champions League knockout round Wednesday when Ajax hosts Atalanta in a crucial Group D match at Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam.
These sides are separated by a point in the final group-stage fixture, with the Serie A side holding the slim advantage in both points and momentum against its Dutch counterpart
Atalanta moved ahead of Ajax in the last round of games, picking up a 1-1 draw against FC Midtjylland. On the other side, Ajax had its UCL dreams dealt a blow in a 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield.
The Reds have already clinched first in the group, with Ajax needing to a win to join the Premier League powerhouse in the next phase of the competition.
Anything but a loss gets Atalanta into the Round of 16 field of title chasers, but it is not in their DNA to sit back and play for the draw.
Let’s take a look at these clubs and what see could be on deck.
The Sons of the Gods put their backs against the wall in that tough road loss against the Reds last out. Curtis Jones’ winner in the 58th minute put Ajax’s UCL dreams in serious jeopardy, combined with Atalanta’s disappointing draw against FC Midtjylland.
Things didn’t go well for the host side on the weekend, either. Ajax suffered a 2-1 loss to FC Twente in Eredivisie play, snapping its six-game winning streak in league play.
Bottom line, the Sons of the Gods have no time to wallow in their woes. They need a win to advance, so I don’t see how they won’t be licking their chops in this golden opportunity taking place on home soil.
Looking at the statistical data, Ajax has put together some solid figures. The Sons of the Gods boast a respectable 7.9 expected goals and 6.6 expected goals against, resulting in a +1.3 xGDiff and +0.26 xGDiff/90 minutes.
The xGA is what has gotten Ajax in trouble up to this point, so improving defensively in this match is of utmost importance it wants to move on.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
The Nerazzurri, last season’s Cinderella story of the competition, have shown they have no desire to be tabbed as a one-hit wonder in this tournament.
The Italian club, which reached the quarterfinals a year ago, showed it was up for another deep run when it secured a 2-0 road win over Liverpool two matches ago. That victory is the biggest reason why the Nerazzurri are in the driver’s seat to be the second team advancing from this quartet.
Atalanta has had plenty of time to prepare for this meeting after its Serie A contest against Udinese was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. In all honesty, that might have been a blessing for a club with just one league win in its last six fixtures after starting its campaign with three consecutive victories.
When comparing Atalanta’s data against Ajax, the visiting side’s advanced metrics are distinctly better than its host. The Nerazzurri sit on 9.2 expected goals and 6.4 expected goals against, yielding a solid +2.8 xGDiff and +0.56 xGDiff/90 minutes.
Overall, Atalanta trails Liverpool by the slightest of margins in those numbers.
Betting Analysis & Picks
This really has the makings of being an ultra-tight affair with so much at stake.
Ajax has to come out and press things from the start, knowing a win is the only avenue out of the group. Unfortunately for the Sons of the Gods, they’re facing an opponent in top defensive form.
That said, I am backing the total to stay under the number as my top play. If Atalanta can shut out Liverpool at Anfield, I don’t see how it can’t put together a similar effort against a lesser side.
Add in the fact there have been two goals or less scored in Atalanta’s last five games (six of its last seven overall) across all competitions, and I am feeling quite confident in this play.
I will also sprinkle a little on this match finishing in a draw at a ripe number close to 3-1 odds. Ties seem to be the norm for Ajax when facing Serie A foes, with five of its last seven games against Italian outfits finishing in stalemates.
Picks: Draw +295 | Total Under 3.5 Goals (-141)