Roma make the trip to Ajax for the first leg of this Europa League tie, and Jake Pearson thinks it could be a low-scoring affair.
Ajax currently sit top of the Dutch Eredivisie, 11 points clear of second-place PSV with a game in hand.
It would not be a push to say that they have the league title pretty much sewn up, but a victory in Europe is something that Ajax have not tasted since 1995, when they beat AC Milan in the final of the Champions League.
The Dutch side have looked much more like their former selves in recent years, reaching the final of this competition in 2017, as well as playing their part in one of European football’s most memorable matches as Lucas Moura’s late goal sent Tottenham Hotspur through to the Champions League final the following season.
Ajax were impressive in comfortably dispatching Swiss side Young Boys in the last round of this competition, winning 5-0 on aggregate, but they face a much tougher task here against Paulo Fonseca’s Roma.
The Italian league may not be what it used to be, but condemning it completely would be a fool’s errand, particularly when considering Italy had three representatives in the last 16 of the Champions League, as well as two in the last 16 of this competition.
Roma are the only one of those five sides remaining, but it does go to show the relative strength of Serie A this term, particularly when considering runaway leaders Inter Milan were not one of five aforementioned teams.
Fonseca's side have struggled for form a little of late, but they have been impressive in the Europa League, and in true Italian fashion, expect them to keep this one tight away in Holland.
Roma have kept five clean sheets in their 10 Europa League matches this season, with five of those 10 matches also seeing just one side hit the back of the net.
Ajax themselves kept a clean sheet in each of their two legs in the last round of this competition, but for all the attacking prowess they have shown in the Dutch league this term, they did fail to score in 50% of their Champions League group stage matches.
It would make sense for Roma to sit back and play for an away goal, while by the same token, Ajax will surely have learnt from their recent European endeavors and be a little less gung-ho.
This represents a good opportunity for both of these sides to progress to the semi-finals of a major European tournament, and the best way to do that is through caution.
This tie really could go either way, but backing BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE 'NO' at a price of 6/4 with BetVictor makes plenty of sense given what is at stake.
We would see this bet win if only one or neither of the two teams hit the net.
Score prediction: Ajax 0-0 Roma (Sky Bet odds: 14/1)
Odds correct at 1230 BST (07/04/21)
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