Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
5 November 2014, 20:45 GMT
FC Barcelona are currently in disastrous run of form as they have lost two games in a row and they will be eager to come back to the winning ways again when they face Ajax at Amsterdam ArenA in their fourth game of UEFA Champions League.
FC Barcelona made an excellent start to their season under new boss Luis Enrique but it now appears that the team is struggling to maintain the same level intensity. FC Barcelona were convincingly beaten by Real Madrid a fortnight ago at Santiago Bernabeu. Their poor run continued when they lost to Celta Vigo at their own Camp Nou and the fans will be hoping for the team to come back to the winning ways in this crucial fixture of Group F of UEFA Champions League.
This is a must win game for Ajax Amsterdam as they have earned only two points from their first three games so far and they will be out of the Champions League if they lose against FC Barcelona on Wednesday.
Team News and Tactics
This is a must win game for Ajax and coach Franc de Boer will be hoping for a strong performance from his inexperienced defenders as it has become a biggest area of concern for the Ducth champions in the new season. Ajax have conceded 12 goals in 11 games of Eredivisie so far.
Ajax have no option but to secure a win against FC Barcelona on Wednesday and Franc de Boer is expected to start the game with his usual 4-3-3 formation. Ajax head into the match against FC Barcelona on the back of two back-to-back Eredivisie victories and coach De Boer knows their opponents deserve respect but urged his players not to fear FC Barcelona.
Speaking to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, De Boer said: “We need to disturb as a team. We have to give them no air to breathe.
“Two weeks ago we really had too much fear of FC Barcelona. Respect is allowed, but fear – of course – is not. I would therefore also like to see passion and confidence.
“Of course they have a lot of quality, but against good teams you get space. We should use that space well. Then there are opportunities.”
Young midfield trio of Klaasen, Zimling and Andersen has shown some great promise this season and they will hold the key for Ajax in this do or die fixture against FC Barcelona.
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Cillessev, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Viergever, Klaasen, Zimling, Andersen, Schoone, Sigthorsson, Kishna.
Striker Luis Suarez will make his European debut for FC Barcelona against his former employers Ajax on Wednesday. Luis Suarez played for Ajax till 2011, scoring 111 goals in process.
FC Barcelona spend huge cash on new signings like Jeremy Mathieu, Luis Suarez, Thomas Varmaelen and Claudio Bravo during the summer transfer window but it now appears that their defence is still not improved while midfielders are also struggling to control the tempo of the games like they used to do it earlier.
The central defence is currently the biggest area of concern for coach Luis Enrique at the moment as Gerard Pique is struggling for form while Jeremy Mathieu is out injured. Javier Mascherano will start the game alongside Pique in absence of Mathieu. Andres Iniesta will miss out the game against Ajax due to calf injury, while Sergi Roberto (groin) and Thomas Vermaelen (thigh) are also sidelined.
Another concern ahead of coach Luis Enrique is his midfield. Ageing maestro Xavi Hernandez is looking ineffective while Andres Iniesta is also struggling for a form since past few games. Ivan Rakitic made a promising start to his FC Barcelona career and the coach is expected to start the game against Ajax with him in the midfield.
Lionel Messi has not scored in FC Barcelona’s last two games but he will be hoping to equal or beat the record of Raul’s Champions League goals by having a good game against Ajax.
FC Barcelona currently sits second in group F of Champions League and this will be a crucial game for them if they want to qualify for next round as group winners. FC Barcelona have lost two games in a row now and this away game will be a big test for them. And midfielder Sergio Busquets stressed the importance of this game in his pre-match press conference.
Busquets said: “It’s only normal that there’s some debate and for people to analyse things through a magnifying glass. When you lose you have to improve because there are clearly things you’re not getting quite right. We are always self-critical, whether we win or lose. We have keep working to improve, there’s nothing else we can do.”
Sergio Busquets also said that the game with Ajax presents an ideal opportunity to start making up lost ground. “Hopefully we can put an end to this poor run” he said. But he also remembers their lost against Ajax exactly a year ago. “They came out strong and were all over us at the start of the game. With the sending off and our goal, everything changed. I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascerano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquetes, Xavi; Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
Player To Watch Out For
Lionel Messi has 69 Champions League goals to his name and he just needs 2 more goals to equal the record of Raul Gonzalez.
Ajax 1-2 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona have struggled with their form in recent games but they are expected to come back strongly against Dutch Champions Ajax at Amsterdam ArenA.
Blast From The Past