Date: 17th September 2015 at 11:21am
Written by:

Celtic travel to Amsterdam to take on European heavyweights Ajax in their opening Europa League group match.

And after the weekend defeat at Aberdeen, Leigh Griffiths has insisted that there is no friction at the club ahead of Thursday’s encounter.

The ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers striker confirmed that Aberdeen’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League made life “difficult” for the current Scottish champions, but made it clear that rumours of rifts behind the scenes were untrue.

“Being a footballer, you are disappointed when you get beaten but the focus was on Ajax,” confirmed Griffiths.

The Scotland forward will be the visitors’ most likely goal threat, whilst Dedryck Boyata and Efe Ambrose are expected to have a busy evening at the heart of the Bhoys defence.

Ronny Deila’s side will travel to the Amsterdam ArenA knowing that coming away with a point will be seen as a good result, but the Norwegian will know how much confidence a victory would give his side.

19th February 2015 - UEFA Europa League - Last 32 (1st Leg) - Celtic v Inter Milan - Leigh Griffiths of Celtic - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Leigh Griffiths

Celtic find themselves in the Europa League after giving up a two-goal lead in their Champions League play-off game against Swedish champions Malmo.

Deila will be without injured trio Charlie Mulgrew, Stuart Armstrong and Scott Allan for the match, but Emilio Izaguirre is available and Jozo Simunovic could make his debut.

Ajax, meanwhile, were surprisingly defeated by Rapid Vienna in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Frank de Boer’s side boasts numerous Holland internationals who represented their country at last summer’s World Cup, including goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and former Everton and Fulham defender John Heitinga.

Up top, a man who has made a good early impression in the Dutch capital is Yaya Sanogo, who is on a season-long loan from Arsenal.

26 November 2014 - UEFA Champions League (Group D) - Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund - Yaya Sanogo of Arsenal - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Yaya Sanogo

The French striker won a penalty for his new side at the weekend, and he is expected to start.

Elsewhere, Celtic skipper Scott Brown will need to keep a close eye on Ajax attacking midfielder, and captain, Davy Klaassen.

The Dutchman, 22, has been impressive for de Boer’s side this season and he is the starting point of the majority of the home side’s attacks.

League Position: Ajax – 1st, 13 pts; Celtic – 2nd, 16 pts
Last Meeting: Ajax 1-0 Celtic – November 6, 2013
Form: Ajax – WWWWD; Celtic – DWWWL
Key Men: Ajax – Davy Klaassen; Celtic – Leigh Griffiths
Shoot Says: Ajax 2-1 Celtic

 
Brought to you by Shoot!