Barcelona vs. Ajax: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 21, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 18:  Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona scores the opening goal past Xabi Irureta of SD Eibar during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on October 18, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Sandra Montanez/Getty Images)
Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

Barcelona and Ajax are two of the most closely linked sides in European football, with great players and coaches connecting the two giants of the European game continuously over recent decades.

Coming head-to-head once more in this year's Champions League, the two sides will do battle once more with the latest iterations of their Johan Cruyff-inspired footballing philosophies. Yet, for all the romance attached to the game, this is serious business for both teams.

Paris Saint-Germain have taken an early lead in the group standings, meaning that both sides have ground to make up if they wish to progress in the tournament. For either, with PSG set for back-to-back games with APOEL, defeat could be fatal.

 

Date: Tuesday, Oct. 21

Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET

Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), Fox Soccer 2GO (US)

Television: Sky Sports 5 (UK), Fox Sports 1 (US)

 

With a fixture against traditional rivals Real Madrid in store this coming weekend, it would be easy for Barcelona to be distracted ahead of their Champions League clash with Ajax this week. Given the state of Group F at the current time, though, they cannot afford to take their opponents lightly.

Much has been made of the shared history of the two sides, with both clubs' modern eras built on the same footballing philosophies and ideals. Once on the pitch, however, such concepts are meaningless.

On recent form, Barcelona will feel confident of success. They are flying in La Liga, four points ahead of Real and have a tremendous home record in Europe over the course of the past decade.

Ajax, on the other hand, have been less successful away from home but, as Soccerway statistics show, they have improved to remain unbeaten on their last five journeys away from Amsterdam.

Ajax's recent league form has not been ideal
Ajax's recent league form has not been idealDean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

It is not often, though, that the Dutch side will have to deal with the twin threats of Lionel Messi and Neymar, responsible for a combined 15 league goals already this campaign. The pair have begun to come to life as a combination, with the Brazilian now looking more confident of his role at the club.

If they are to achieve success, Ajax will have to come up with a solution to contain the two global stars.

Messi and Neymar have begun to spark as a combination
Messi and Neymar have begun to spark as a combinationDavid Ramos/Getty Images

It is a difficult challenge for Frank de Boer to overcome; he must counteract the obvious threat that Barcelona pose, while also retaining some form of threat on the break. Ajax have not been free-scoring thus far in the Group Stage, but they can draw inspiration from their 1-1 draw with PSG last month. They will require a similar level of performance or even better if they are to avoid defeat this time around.

Barca are talking a good game, professing to be focusing on the task in hand rather than the potentially distracting domestic clash they face this weekend. Per Goal.com's Mark Doyle, midfielder Javier Mascherano told reporters:

The most important game is always the next one, because if you win, that changes the next one. We need to win against Ajax and go into the next game [against Real] with confidence.

Distraction is inevitable, though, and the greatest chance of an upset would be if complacency were to creep in during a game which the hosts are expected to win comfortably. Barcelona must now ensure they are true to their word.

The two games between the two sides look set to be crucial in determining which side can progress to the tournament's knockout rounds. It is up to Barcelona to ensure that their qualification campaign remains on track.

 

Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Ajax