Ajax sit top of the Dutch Eredivisie, ahead of fourth-placed PSV, who picked up three points in the Champions League last night. Four wins and a draw, away to Twente on Saturday, is a near-perfect start to the domestic campaign, although that was only Twente’s second point of the season, if that provides a glimmer of hope.
Form has been less convincing in Europe. An honourable 2-2 draw away to Rapid Vienna was made meaningless by a 2-3 defeat in Amsterdam in the Champions League qualifiers. Ajax then endured a tense two-leg Europa League qualifier against Czechs, Jablonec, which ended in a 1-0 aggregate win. Not that we should be dismissive of anyone on European form.
What will give Ronny Deila room for some encouragement is who Ajax have faced so far in the league. AZ (13th placed), Willem II (15th), NEC (10th) ADO Den Haag (12th), before dropping those points to Twente (16th). All they can do is beat the teams before them, but they will not have been stretched domestically. Even Jablonec are struggling in 6th place in the Czech league. Celtic should be able to provide a test at a higher tempo.
By any measure, Celtic are not without their problems. We’ve not kept a home clean sheet since the opening day of the league campaign against Ross County, and we’ve won only one of our last four away games – and that was against Dundee United who lost four on the bounce. But there’s three points to play for tomorrow, and I doubt either team are taking them for granted.