Ajax boss Frank De Boer knows a loss at Celtic on Tuesday would be hugely detrimental to his team’s chances of advancing to the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Amsterdam outfit were unlucky not to beat AC Milan in Amsterdam in their previous match, as a questionable Mario Balotelli penalty in stoppage time forced the hosts to settle for a draw.
Celtic will be without striker Kris Commons and midfielder Scott Brown, and De Boer is hoping Ajax take advantage of their unavailability.
“It’s obviously always nice to win,” he told reporters. “To lose is the worse option, but a draw could be enough because then we play Celtic at the Amsterdam ArenA.
“If we win, it could be very difficult for Celtic to get close to second place and if we lose, Celtic takes a great advantage.
“We’re playing for second place.”
De Boer expects a raucous welcome at Celtic Park, one he experienced during his playing days, and believes it will be a great experience for his team.
“The players have to enjoy this kind of atmosphere," he reasoned. "When you’re young, you want to play in stadiums like this, in that kind of atmosphere.
“You have to prepare yourself to perform better. If you play substandard then maybe you’re not good enough to play at this level.
“You can be nervous when the referee kicks off, but you have to get rid of your nerves and enjoy the great stadium.
“[As a player with Rangers], I remember the great atmosphere and rivalry between the clubs. I still remember the atmosphere, the people shouting at you. For me, it was a great adventure.
“We’re getting better every match and the results will soon follow if we keep on playing well like that. There’s a great chance it’ll come tomorrow.”
Ajax travelled without midfielder Lerin Duarte and winger Bojan Krkic, but De Boer is hoping experienced defender Niklas Moisander can return to help shore up the back four who face a tough test going against Celtic’s bullish forward Georgios Samaras.
“Celtic are favourites. The level between both clubs is pretty even but they’re playing at home with the fans behind them," he argued.
“Samaras is a key player with his height and strength. If they can’t build from the back, the first ball will be for Samaras and then they’ll fight for the second phase.
"He’s so strong, it’s almost impossible to win the first ball from the head of Samaras. We have to be very good to win the second.”