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UEFA Champions League

  • 28 September 2010
  • • 19:45
  • • Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
  • Referee: F. Brych
  • • Attendance: 51276
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Champions League Preview: Ajax - AC Milan

Champions League Preview: Ajax - AC Milan

Kickstarting the European campaign

Dutch powerhouse and former four-time European champions Ajax's first appearance in the Champions League in five years ended in bitter disappointment on Matchday One last month as they were turned over again and again by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

The 2-0 scoreline is actually a less harsh portrayal of the true picture in the Spanish capital as Martin Jol's side managed just eight shots, out of which one was on target. Admittedly, striker Luis Suarez and centre-back was Jan Vertonghen were.absent for the trip to Spain but the defeat exhibited that de Godenzonen are prone to struggling without their big stars.

But both Suarez and Vertonghen are back for Ajax's home match against Milan on Tuesday evening and this will considerably strengthen their chances of collecting their first points of the season in Europe. Ajax have been in sensational form at home in the Dutch Eredivsie, having won three games out of three at the Amsterdam Arena, and will be eager to maintain that winning run in Europe too.

However, the current league leaders were held to a 2-2 draw at the weekend by Dutch champions FC Twente and coach Jol is wary of the task ahead, saying, "Milan have plenty of class in each area, especially in attack, although the defence is solid as well."

Taking the bull by the horns

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi would tell you that the Rossoneri have the European Cup in their DNA and although given their transgression since 2007 when they last won the Champions League you might be tempted to release a giggle, you may just have to suppress that since indeed the Italians are the masters of Europe.

With seven European Cups Milan are the second most successful club in Champions League history and will travel to Amsterdam to take on Ajax with hope and optimism. The Rossoneri's start to the continent's biggest club football competition wasn't exactly impressive but the stuttering 2-0 win means that they do have three points in their bag in a group that also comprises of Real Madrid and Auxerre.

However, Milan's current form is far from austere and their away record in all competitions this campaign is poor. The Diavolo's narrow and somewhat less than impressive 1-0 win against Genoa on Saturday was their first in Serie A since the opening weekend of the league season and they have yet to win away from the San Siro this campaign.

Nevertheless, it will be a special occasion for Milan and also for duo Clarence Seedorf and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who played for Ajax in their respective careers. Looking ahead to his return to the club he conquered Europe with in 1995, Seedorf says, "For me, it is really special at this stage of my career to be able to go back to Ajax again. I hope the feelings are mutual."

But the Dutch veteran warns, "They will have learned from their mistakes against Madrid. I am really curious to see how they will play against us. I hope that it will be a great match."



TEAM NEWS

Ajax

Midfielders Rasmus Lindgren and Eyong Enoh are available for the clash as they have been passed fit. Jol will also have striker Luis Suarez and defender Vertonghen back from suspension.

However, Teemu Tainio looks likely to be out and Evander Sno is recovering after heart surgery. Kenneth Vermee and Nicolas Lodeiro are long-term injury concerns.

Milan


Midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is suffering from muscular fatigue and could be given a rest against Ajax, latest reports suggest. Alexandre Pato and Massimo Ambrosini remain out with respective injuries.

Playmaker Ronaldinho could be dropped to the bench too as the Brazilian has struggled with poor form so far this season.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Maarten StekelenburgGoalkeeper
8Vurnon AnitaDefender
5Jan VertonghenDefender
12Toby AlderweireldDefender
23Gregory van der WielDefender
6Eyong EnohMidfielder
10Siem de JongMidfielder
20Demy de ZeeuwMidfielder
8Urby EmanuelsonMidfielder
9Mounir El HamdaouiStriker
7Luis SuárezStriker
-Jeroen VerhoevenGoalkeeper
13André OoijerDefender
-OleguerDefender
23Christian EriksenMidfielder
11Florian JozefzoonStriker
8Miralem SulejmaniStriker
-Rasmus LindgrenMidfielder
32Christian AbbiatiGoalkeeper
3Luca AntoniniDefender
4Thiago SilvaDefender
13Alessandro NestaDefender
19Gianluca Zambrotta Defender
20Mathieu FlaminiMidfielder
21Andrea PirloMidfielder
8Gennaro Ivan GattusoMidfielder
10C. SeedorfManager/Coach
7RobinhoStriker
10Zlatan IbrahimovicStriker
14Marco AmeliaGoalkeeper
-Marek JankulovskiDefender
25Daniele BoneraDefender
10RonaldinhoMidfielder
9Kevin-Prince BoatengMidfielder
20Ignazio AbateDefender
-Filippo InzaghiStriker
Players to Watch
Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Luis Suarez missed the game against Madrid at the Bernabeu and Ajax went down 2-0, creating precious little upfront. The Uruguay international already has netted six times in the Dutch Eredivisie this season and his return to the Ajax line-up against Milan will give them an extra edge in the attacking department. Suarez is one of the most prolific goalscorers in world football and he could well make the Rossoneri defenders struggle throughout the 90 minutes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Ibrahimovic will be the key player again for Milan. The Sweden international striker scored both the goals in the Diavolo's 2-0 defeat of Auxerre at the San Siro and he has scored in his last two league fixtures as well, his wonderful strike against Genoa leading Allegri's side to their first league victory since the opening weekend of the season.

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