Aston Villa

Aston Villa vs Ajax

, KO: 20:00 Mar 14, 2024, Villa Park

ASTON VILLA's hopes of reaching next season's Champions League suffered a huge blow at the weekend but they now have a chance to book a quarter-final slot in the Europa Conference League when Ajax come calling.

It hasn't been a great week for Unai Emery's side, with a dreary 0-0 stalemate in Amsterdam last Thursday followed by a 4-0 battering at home by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Spurs can now jump above Aston Villa into fourth place in the Premier League if they win their game in hand and Emery's side need to bounce back quickly to stop a promising season from ending in anti-climax.

It's now just three wins in their last seven outings but Emery is a shrewd operator and knows what it takes to win in Europe, having lifted the Europa League trophy four times with Sevilla and Villarreal.

Ajax won't be pushovers though and I thought the Dutch giants were overpriced ahead of the first leg, cashing in by backing them at 6/5 in the double chance on home soil.

John van't Schip's side are still struggling for consistency and they needed a late leveller to salvage a draw at home to Fortuna Sittard on Sunday.

That has left Ajax sitting fifth in the Eredivisie, six points adrift of a Europa League place and a whopping 13 adrift of Twente in the final Champions League slot.

But if they can shock Aston Villa in the Midlands then the fallen European giants can still salvage something from what has been a disastrous season so far.

How the bookies view it

Aston Villa remain heavy favourites to qualify and their best price to reach the quarter-finals is just 2/9 at Bet365, with Ajax 4/1 in the same market with Paddy Power. For a win on the night, the Dutch side are a whopping 13/2 with Betfred and Villa's price only increases to 4/9 at Bet365. The draw at 90 minutes pays 4/1 with most firms.

Head to head

That first-leg draw was just the second meeting of these sides in Europe. On Ajax's first visit to Villa Park in 2008, they lost 2-1 in the UEFA Cup group stage.

Players to watch

Emery rested a few big hitters in the first leg but I'd imagine he'll go strong for this one as Aston Villa look to bounce back from a disappointing weekend. Ollie Watkins is having the best season of his career and he's evens with Bet36 5 to add to his 22-goal tally.

Brian Brobbey was the biggest threat for Ajax in Amsterdam and another goal at the weekend took his tally for the season to 19. The 22-year-old is 4/1 at Bet365 for anytime scorer which looks a bit overpriced.

Anything else catch eye?

It was a surprise to see the first leg end without a goal given both teams have been involved in so many thrillers this season. Aston Villa also drew a blank at the weekend but they should rediscover their shooting boots with so much at stake. The bookies think that way too, with over 2.5 goals just 4/7 at William Hill and BTTS paying a best 4/5 with Midnite. Combining those pics gets you just above evens at 21/20 with Bet365.

I backed Jordan Henderson for a card last week but instead it was his midfield sidekick Sivert Mannsverk who went into the book. Two red cards were also flashed so it could pay to back another busy night for the ref. Mannsverk has been booked in his last three European outings and is 6/4 at Bet365 to pick up another card while Villa's Matty Cash is 12/5 in the same market.

There wasn't much between these sides in the first leg and neither team needs to chase the game so the half-time draw might come up  6/4 with 888Sport while backing most goals to come in the second half pays 10/11 at McBookie.

This match between Aston Villa and Ajax will be played on Mar 14, 2024 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Aston Villa vs Ajax prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.

Aston Villa vs Ajax Betting Tips & Predictions
Half-time draw
Sivert Mannsverk to be carded
Ollie Watkins anytime scorer

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