MarathonBet is listing big odds about Ajax winning its UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg at Schalke and one can only deduce from its market-leading quote that its bookmaking team did not watch last week’s first leg.
One tipped Ajax at underdog odds to beat Schalke in their first UEFA Europa League encounter and even one could not believe how dominant the Sons Of Gods were versus the Royal Blues at the Amsterdam Arena. Ajax scored goals either side of half time to register a 2-0 home victory but the Sons Of Gods ought to have won by double its two-goal margin. Ajax had 12 efforts on target to Schalke’s two, the Sons Of Gods struck the woodwork and forced 11 corner kicks to the three of their guests. Davy Klassen was responsible for both Ajax goals and, if it had been for Ralf Fahrmann’s 10 saves, he and his Sons Of Gods teammates would have filled their boots and put the tie out of the reach of the Royal Blues.
Perhaps the reason why Marathonbet is willing to lay Ajax at +350 is that the Sons Of Gods are taking part in an epic Dutch Eredivisie title fight with Feyenoord. Ajax is one point behind Feyenoord with three rounds to go and the Sons Of Gods are scheduled to visit third-placed PSV on Sunday two hours after Feyenoord plays at fifth-placed Vitesse. According to betting markets, Ajax had a better chance of winning the Dutch Eredivisie than the UEFA Europa League but the former is out of its control and that is why one thinks that the Sons Of Gods will focus on the latter. And why would Ajax not throw everything that it has into its UEFA Europa League campaign? Ajax is odds on to qualify for the semi-finals of UEFA’s second most prestigious club competition and, with all due respect to the other sides, none of the teams in the tournament is a world beater.
Certainly Schalke is not a world beater. Schalke is a famous name in football due to its incredible supporter base but the Royal Blues have not won a major trophy since 2011 and they are a long way behind Bayern Munchen and their hated neighbours, Dortmund, in the German Bundesliga. Schalke is 11th on the German Bundesliga ladder with five rounds to go, just five points above the relegation play-off spot. Only because other German Bundesliga teams, including Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, have been bitterly disappointing this season has saved Schalke from even more negative media coverage.
Schalke deserves to stay out of the German Bundesliga drop zone because it has wiped the floor with most of the seven sides below it on the ladder – the Royal Blues are 7-1-3 against lower ranked teams. But Schalke is not challenging for German Bundesliga honours because it is 3-6-9 versus higher ranked sides and one can explain its three victories without getting excited about the Royal Blues – they beat poor traveller Hertha 2-0 at home, they defeated Bremen 3-1 at home long before the River Islanders rediscovered their mojo and they thrashed Monchengladbach 4-0 at home in a clash between two of the division’s disappointments.
Thilo Kehrer is suspended for Schalke and the Royal Blues defence may be without its leader, Benedikt Howedes, also. Schalke coach Markus Weinzierl is being coy about Howedes and the central defender was absent from the Royal Blues line-up that lost 1-2 at German Bundesliga cellar dweller Darmstadt on Sunday. Having to chase a UEFA Europa League tie without at least one and possibly two of its regular defence may prove a mission too difficult for Schalke.
Away goals are worth their weight in gold in UEFA Europa League knockout ties so Ajax will be trying to get one and, if the Sons Of Gods score first at the Veltins-Arena, their hosts will face the deflating task of scoring at least four goals in normal time. There are so many reasons why Ajax is overpriced at odds of +350 to win at Schalke this week.
Ajax to beat Schalke
Thursday 20th April, 20:05 BST