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Nov 28, 2021 at 11.15am UK
SpartaSparta Rotterdam
0-1
AjaxAjax

Engels (90+5'), Smeets (90+5')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Tadic (36')
Neres (90+4'), Maduro (90+5')

Preview: Sparta Rotterdam vs. Ajax - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Sparta Rotterdam vs. Ajax - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Eredivisie clash between Sparta Rotterdam and Ajax, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Having qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with total ease, Ajax resume Eredivisie duties with Sunday's trip to lowly Sparta Rotterdam.

Erik ten Hag's side are sitting pretty at the top of the table, while their hosts are 15 places and 20 points worse off heading into gameweek 14.


Match preview

Seeking to follow up their impressive 3-0 success over Willem II with victory over European hopefuls Twente, Sparta Rotterdam gave Ron Jans's men a good run for their money but ultimately succumbed to a 1-0 defeat on home soil.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining to condemn Sparta Rotterdam to their seventh loss from 13 games this season, making their challenge to drag themselves away from the relegation scrap that little bit harder.

Henk Fraser's men sit 16th and in the relegation playoff spot as things stand - just one point above Fortuna Sittard but six clear of basement boys PEC Zwolle - and they have now failed to score in three of their last four top-flight encounters.

Sparta Rotterdam head into Sunday's game with the champions boasting just one win from their last nine attempts in the Eredivisie, and they have also failed to win in five at their headquarters, which spells trouble for Fraser ahead of this weekend's daunting fixture.

After consistently downplaying speculation with the Manchester United job, Erik ten Hag ensured that Ajax's perfect start to the 2021-22 Champions League would be extended in midweek, with Besiktas no match for the Amsterdam giants' superiority.

The Dutch champions eased into the knockout stages courtesy of a 2-1 win over Besiktas, with substitute Sebastien Haller keeping his ruthless streak in Europe going with both goals on the day after Rachid Ghezzal had broken the deadlock from the spot.

Haller's eighth and ninth goals of the tournament see him lead the way with Robert Lewandowski at the top of the goalscoring charts, and the ex-West Ham United man was also on target twice in a 5-0 thumping of Waalwijk last weekend to see Ajax remain above PSV Eindhoven at the top on goal difference.

The champions' league record of 42 goals scored and only two conceded at the other end of the pitch is utterly astounding, and they have not lost an away game in any tournament in 2021, so not many bets will be placed on Sparta Rotterdam ending that hot streak here.

Ajax could only record a 1-0 win on Sparta Rotterdam's turf last term courtesy of Antony's strike, but they won 4-2 at home back in February and will be aiming to extend their winning run against the hosts to 10 matches on Sunday.

Sparta Rotterdam Eredivisie form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Sparta Rotterdam form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Ajax Eredivisie form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W

Ajax form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

Sparta Rotterdam have no injury or suspension concerns whatsoever to work around for this contest, and Fraser ought to keep faith with the majority of the XI that frustrated Twente for large portions last time out.

Such a setup would see Emanuel Emegha and Lennart Thy form a two-man strike partnership, and Michael Heylen is an option at the back should Fraser opt for a more defensive shape against the league leaders.

As for Ajax, last season's match winner Antony missed the win over Besiktas, but he is only thought to have been rested, while midfielder Edson Alvarez returns from a European suspension.

Antony and Haller ought to take their rightful spots in attack as David Neres and Mohamed Daramy drop out, and Davy Klaassen could make way for the returning Alvarez in midfield.

Andre Onana returned from a lengthy doping suspension in time to face Besiktas, so 38-year-old Remko Pasveer's time in the first team could now come to an end.

Sparta Rotterdam possible starting lineup:
Okoye; Masouras, Vriends, Beugelsdijk, Pinto; Mijnans, Auassar, Abels, Smeets; Emegha, Thy

Ajax possible starting lineup:
Onana; Mazraoui, Timber, Martinez, Blind; Alvarez, Gravenberch; Antony, Berghuis, Tadic; Haller


We say: Sparta Rotterdam 0-3 Ajax

A sense of inconsistency has plagued Ajax in the Eredivisie recently, but this game should only end one way with Ten Hag able to rest some of his star names in midweek.

Sparta Rotterdam held their own against Twente, but the relegation-threatened hosts will surely spring no surprises against the away-day specialists.


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Eredivisie Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Ajax1511314824636
2Feyenoord15112238142435
3PSV EindhovenPSV15111338221634
4FC UtrechtUtrecht1582530201026
5Vitesse158252022-226
6FC Twente157442219325
7Cambuur158072735-824
8AZ AlkmaarAZ157262821723
9Heerenveen156361821-321
10Go Ahead Eagles156271925-620
11NEC155462024-419
12Groningen154651721-418
13Willem II155371628-1218
14RKC WaalwijkRKC Waalwijk153661623-715
15Heracles154291521-614
16Sparta RotterdamSparta152491224-1210
17Fortuna SittardSittard1523101639-239
18PEC Zwolle151311827-196
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2Celtic16112336102635
3Hearts1786326151130
4Dundee UnitedDundee Utd177461518-325
5Motherwell177462125-425
6Aberdeen176382222021
7Hibernian155461819-119
8St Mirren173861728-1117
9Dundee164481530-1516
10St Johnstone15357915-614
11Livingston163491223-1113
12Ross County152581927-811
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