Ajax and Union Berlin resume their continental efforts on Thursday evening 

when they square off in the first leg of their Europa League playoff tie.

Both clubs are currently competing for silverware in their respective leagues,

leaving it open to interpretation whether this competition is a distraction at this stage of the season.

Having posted four draws in five league fixtures

Ajax dropped off the pace in the Dutch top flight

but the introduction of Johnny Heitinga has instigated a change in fortunes.

Since stepping up from Ajax's second-string

the former defender has recorded four victories in succession

with 13 goals being netted during those quartet of fixtures.

Although Ajax have faced no team higher than fifth-placed FC Twente,