June 22nd, 2024

MATCHDAY: Dutch giant Ajax in a mess heading to Brighton in Europa League

By The Associated Press on October 25, 2023.

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:

EUROPA LEAGUE

The unravelling of Ajax is proving to be one of the saddest soccer stories of the season. The Dutch giant – a four-time European champion and among the continent’s storied clubs – has made its worst ever start to a season since the advent of professional soccer in the Netherlands in 1954. Ajax has failed to win in its last eight games in all competitions – five of those have been defeats – its longest-ever run without a victory. The team is in next-to-last place in the Dutch league on the back of four straight losses and has yet to win in the Europa League, either, heading into a match at Brighton. On Monday, Ajax parted company with coach Maurice Steijn after just 11 games in charge, with former player Hedwiges Maduro taking temporary control of the team. Brighton has only one point from two games in its first season in European soccer. English teams Liverpool and West Ham are two of seven clubs on a maximum six points and they face Toulouse and Olympiakos, respectively.

EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Last season’s runner-up Fiorentina looks to boost its status in Group F when it hosts last-place Cukaricki, a Serbian club. With two points from two draws, Fiorentina is third in the group behind Ferencvaros and Genk, who have four points each entering their match in Belgium. Fiorentina has had a strong start in Serie A, including an impressive 3-1 win at defending champion Napoli before the international break. But the Viola were also beaten 2-0 by visiting Empoli in a Tuscan derby on Monday. Also, Aston Villa visits AZ Alkmaar in Group E, where all four teams are on three points. Slovan Bratislava, Viktoria Plzen, PAOK and Fenerbahce are the only four sides that won both of their opening matches. Of those four, Fenerbahce is the only one playing at home this week, against a Ludogorets side coming off a 7-1 rout by Nordsjaelland. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s home game against Zorya Luhansk was postponed to Nov. 25 and needs to be moved to a new venue after UEFA decided that Israel will not host any European matches until further notice.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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