Ajax boss Frank de Boer has warned that Barcelona has proven to be a force to be reckoned with even when it has been without Lionel Messi this season.
The Blaugrana romped to a 4-0 win against Granada at the weekend despite missing the Argentine through a hamstring injury and De Boer has pointed to the consistency of Gerardo Martino's side as proof that the loss of Messi does not overly weaken the team.
"We want to be second in the group but, even without Messi, Barcelona have lost very few points in both the league as well as the Champions League. Even without Messi they have a lot of great players," he said in a news conference ahead of Ajax's Champions League clash with Barca. "I hope we can get the best out of ourselves, play well and get a good result. But for me it is always about the football, and if you do that well than you can get a good result. I expect it to be a spectacle tomorrow because both teams like to attack and play forward."
De Boer went on to stress his intention to play as attacking a game as possible when Barcelona visits the Amsterdam ArenA, pointing to Bayern Munich's 7-0 aggregate semifinal win last season as proof that sides need not simply shut up shop against the Liga champions.
"We have the same philosophy as Barcelona, we play technically, we want to play offensively. We always think more offensively than defensively and this is similar. I am used to playing like this as a player and as a coach. I want to show that tomorrow," De Boer said.
"Bayern Munich proved that by putting pressure on and playing proper football you can beat Barcelona. But Bayern are a fantastic team, we will play to our philosophy."