Ajax manager Alfred Schreuder has warned that his side will not be put off by a vengeful Liverpool on Tuesday night, as the Reds vie to kick-start their Champions League campaign following a brutal 4-1 hammering at Napoli last week. (Liverpool 8/15, draw 19/5, Ajax 9/2 – match result).
Liverpool were soundly beaten at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with goals from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Giovanni Simeone and a brace from Piotr Zielinski heaping added significance on the clash with Ajax.
And Schreuder, for whom a win will undoubtedly mean the chance to challenge Napoli for top spot over matchdays three and four, expects Liverpool to come out all guns blazing but says his side will not be deterred from sticking to their own system. (Ajax 5/6 to qualify from Group A – outright).
“We want to try to play our game”, said the former Feyenoord midfielder.
“Against these kinds of teams, you have to be very good on the ball and have a lot of guts and courage. That is the keyword.
“If we can do that, then we stand a chance.”
The Amsterdam outfit were themselves involved in a rout last week – they meted out a four-goal thrashing on Rangers, with Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis and Mohammed Kudus all pouncing before half-time before Steven Bergwijn bagged a late fourth against a Scottish side with no answer.
Ajax reached the last sixteen of the Champions League last season, winning all six of their group clashes before falling to Benfica over two legs in the opening knockout phase. Only four seasons ago, a team featuring Frenkie de Jong, Hakim Ziyech, and Matthijs de Ligt ran to within inches of the final, ultimately succumbing to a comeback semi-final defeat against Tottenham.
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Broaching the subject of domestic competition, Schreuder – formerly an assistant coach to Ronald Koeman in his time at Barcelona – alluded to his side’s recent success in Europe to allay fears that the calibre of the opponent on offer to Ajax in the Eredivisie left them underprepared for their clashes with the continent’s elite.
“The intensity of the Premier League is many times higher, but we are Ajax, and I think Ajax has shown in Europe in recent years that they can compete at this level.”
Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson will miss Tuesday’s clash with a knee injury, and he could be out until October. Curtis Jones, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all sidelined too.
Ajax left-back Owen Wijndal will sit out at Anfield, while Calvin Bassey is a doubt due to a foot injury.