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Dutch great Kieft struggling to see how Ajax kids can match Liverpool

Former Ajax star Wim Kieft believes they're not capable of beating Champions League group opponents Liverpool.

Liverpool will kick off this season's Champions League group campaign against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday night. While missing Virgil van Dijk after the Holland international defender's knee injury suffered in their 2-2 draw at Everton, Kieft believes Liverpool will still be too strong for Ajax on the night.

If Ajax are to have any chance, Kieft believes the tactics and team selection of coach Erik ten Hag will be key. After losing the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt to Barcelona and Juventus respectively a year ago, Ten Hag's squad has been further decimated this past summer. Sergino Dest (Barcelona), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United) and Joel Veltman (Brighton) are among frontliners to have moved on.

And Kieft says the youth and inexperience of the current Ajax team will be no match for the Premier League champions.

He wrote in De Telegraaf via Voetbalzone: “Does Erik ten Hag stick to the offensive way of playing with a lot of space behind the last line or does he choose a more careful way of fighting?

"Defensively, Ajax is vulnerable with Blind, Mazraoui and to a lesser extent Tagliafico. Schuurs offers no guarantees in the back. Caution is advised.

"If Ten Hag does not build in any security in midfield with Klaassen and Álvarez or Martínez and if he has two of the three positions occupied by Promes, Gravenberch and/or Kudus, then you call out problems about yourself against Liverpool.

“Will Ten Hag finally prefer Tadic in the rush hour to Labyad? On the right flank, Antony shows that there is a top player in him, but he is young, inexperienced and is playing his first Champions League match.

“As said, Promes is out of shape, Labyad is lacking and Neres is surrounded by question marks. Almost a year ago he got injured during Chelsea-Ajax and since then his rehabilitation has been a process of trial and error."

Kieft is a former Ajax player, kicking off his distinguished career with the Amsterdam giants before going onto play in Italy with Pisa and Torino, along in France with Bordeaux. The former centre-forward also managed two spells with PSV Eindhoven.

Kieft boasts 42 caps with Holland.


- updated October 20

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Paul Vegas

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