Ajax present arguably the toughest test for Chelsea in their Champions League group this season and Tammy Abraham thinks that Wednesday’s opponents are similar to the Blues given their emphasis on youth.
Chelsea have taken three points from their first two games in Group H but Ajax are top after winning both of their opening fixtures going into the match at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Erik ten Hag’s side narrowly missed out on the final last season following a last-minute goal from Tottenham in the semi-finals as a clutch of young stars impressed for Ajax.
The Dutch giants remain focused on youth and it is an approach Chelsea have adopted this season due to a combination of a transfer ban and the appointment of Frank Lampard as manager.
Abraham, who is embarking on his first campaign in European football, has been one of the beneficiaries of the change in focus at Chelsea, and he has seen the similarities with Ajax.
“We know it’s a massive game for us,” Abraham told reporters after Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge. “Ajax are like us, with a lot of young players that like to keep the ball and play good football.
“Off the ball as well they like to win it back quickly. It’s not going to be easy but I believe in myself and my team. Hopefully, we can get a result there.”
With Chelsea having lost their opening group game at home to Valencia, it is likely to be tight all the way through to the final round of matches in terms of who qualifies for the last 16.
Lampard is expecting a stern test in the upcoming double-header against Ajax, but is looking forward to the challenge with his young squad.
“Yes, yes it is [a tight group],” said the Chelsea boss. “We got a good result in Lille which changes the face of it slightly. Now, these two games against Ajax are really big. They have been such a strong team, they’ve got points on the board and they will give us a problem.
“In terms of the atmosphere in the stadium, they are going to be strong. The movement and the way they play football is going to be a big test for us. We go there relatively confident so let’s take on the challenge.
“I think everything is an education in football. Today we were trying to break down a team with 10 men behind the ball a lot of the time. Lille was a big education for Champions League debuts for Tammy, Mason [Mount], Fikayo [Tomori] and Reece [James].
“Another one with Ajax who are a top-level team who have managed to get to the semi-finals. They have good players who play a certain way. Off the ball, you have to be fully concentrated. In terms of what they can do to you, how they play, so yes, it is a big challenge.”