Ajax should be close to full strength for the visit of Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Amsterdam.
Andy van der Meyde is suspended, but the rest of coach Ronald Koeman’s squad look set to be given the all-clear
Christian Chivu, Hatem Trabelsi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (thigh injury), should all be in the starting line-up, while Jari Litmanen has indicated that he is fit enough to merit a place on the bench.
“Jari answered positively when I asked him if he would be fit enough for 20 or 25 minutes,’ confirmed KKoeman. ‘For me that was enough.”
“I believe that this Milan can be compared with Valencia,” Koeman said. “A team that knows to play football andthat is what they are willing to do. They won’t play as defensively as Internazionale did in the two matches we had with them.”
Milan meanwhile could be without striker Filippo Inzaghi who is struggling to shake off the effects of a flu bug. Should he miss out, Danish international Jon Dahl Tomasson is ready to line up alongside Andriy Shevchenko in attack – the latter having recovered from a calf injury.
“Sheva is better and there shouldn’t be any problems, as for Inzaghi we will decide tomorrow,” Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said yesterday.
Whoever plays up front, Portuguese playmaker Rui Costa is expected to move to the right of midfield, as Ancelotti reverts to a 4-4-2 formation. Alessandro Costacurta replaces injured defender Kakha Kaladze.
‘They have a very young, hungry group of players who want to achieve,” Ancelotti said of Ajax.
“They want to attack and we have to be aware of that.”
of the eight remaining teamsin the competition, Ajax are regarded as underdogs. However, finishing ahead of Arsenal and Roma in their second qualifying group, gives an indication of the qualifty at Koeman’s disposal. Milan would be wise not to underestimate the Dutch side, although given their array of attacking talent, it would take a brave man to bet against the Italian side reaching the last four.
Ajax: Lobont, Trabelsi, Chivu, Pasanen, O’Brien, de Jong, Galasek, Pienaar, Maxwell, Van der Vaart, Ibrahimovic.
Milan: Dida, Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Costa, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Inzaghi, Shevchenko Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway)