Tonight’s encounter between Ajax and Juventus brings together two of the most successful teams in European football history, the pair having contested 13 European Champion Clubs’ Cup finals and won the trophy six times between them.
Ronald Koeman, under pressure at Ajax, following the club’s poor start to the season, admits that victory may be beyond his team.
“We have a major opponent,” he said, “but we want – and will dare – to play a forward-pressing game. If I’m asked today, a draw would not be a bad result for us. But we do have a slight chance of [achieving] more on the day.”
“Games like this are the easiest for a coach as everyone is already really motivated.”
Juve’s new coach, Fabio Capello, bought several players over the summer. Emerson and Jonathan Zebina arrived from former club Roma, plus Fabio Cannavaro, Olivier Kapo, Manuel Blasi, Landry Bonnefoi and the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The match marks the return to Amsterdam of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has promised not to celebrate if he is on target against his old club.
“We lost a good, young, strong player [in Ibrahimovic],” Koeman said of the Swede
“But losing young talent to bigger clubs has always been part of the Ajax experience.”
Capello is without the injured Zebina, while Koeman has to contend with the possible absence of new Argentinian signing, Mauro Rosale, who suffered a groin strain in training. Tomas Galasek and John O’Brien were already ruled out with injuries