October 21, 2014, 20:45 CET
Camp Nou, Barcelona
FC Barcelona will be hoping to get their UEFA Champions League campaign back on track when they host Dutch champions Ajax at the Camp Nou.
Former FC Barcelona team mates Luis Enrique and Frank de Boer go head to head as the Blaugrana face Ajax in very important Group E encounter tonight. FC Barcelona are second in their Champions League group and they will be trying to secure all three points against AFC Ajax as this will prove crucial to become group winners.
Meanwhile, Ajax are part of very difficult group and their chances of progressing into the second round ahead of FC Barcelona and PSG are very thin. But Frank de Boer will be hoping for a spirited performance from his young players at Camp Nou.
Team News, Tactics and Predicted Line-up
The error prone defence of FC Barcelona was brutally exposed by PSG in their last group game and coach Luis Enrique will be hoping for a much solid performance from his defenders tonight.
FC Barcelona would be trying to win all three points from this easy looking encounter. But coach Luis Enrique refused to take Ajax lightly. In his press conference ahead of the match, Luis Enrique said that: “We will have to produce a complete performance to beat Ajax, a team of many strengths. Ajax are a well-structured side, one that knows how to attack, how to press. Last season they created many problems for Barcelona.”
This is our third match. We won one, lost the second and this one is very important. We are at home and it is key to our qualification. Sergio Busquets is at my disposal. Tomorrow morning we will see how he feels and whether he is fit to take part in the game.”
Young goal keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen made a costly error in a game against PSG but coach Luis Enrique is expected to start this game with him. However, Luis Enrique refused to drop any hint about his selection preferences. “All three goalkeepers are ready to play. We will see tomorrow morning and decide during the day. Ajax’s positional play is very good. They can play short and long passes and they find solutions in all areas. They press in defence − they don’t hesitate − and counterattack really well.”
FC Barcelona is expected to play an all attacking game against Ajax as they are eager to secure all three points and Pedro, Messi and Neymar will form the three man attack.
Meanwhile, on the injury front, Adriano Correia is feeling a little tightness in his thigh and has been left out as a precaution while Thomas Vermaelen continues to be sidelined. Sergio Busquets is also not feeling well and he is not expected to start the game tonight.
Probable Line-up 4-3-3: Ter Stegen; Alves, Mathieu, Piqué, Alba; Mascherano, Roberto, Xavi; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
Ajax have not won away from home in the UEFA Champions League in three years and coach Frank de Boer will be having an extremely difficult task ahead of him when his side visits noisy Camp Nou tonight.
The young looking Ajax side is not expected to pose many problems for FC Barcelona and De Boer is aware of this reality. Frank de Boer, a former teammate of Luis Enrique at FC Barcelona, has called this fixture a “learning experience” for his players. He said in a pre-match press conference that: “I want to see much pleasure and joy [tomorrow]. We can get a result in this game. Last year [when Ajax defeated Barcelona in Amsterdam] we saw that we can get something from such a match. But, for that, we have to perform at our maximum level. Barcelona are at a higher level compared to us and have more experience. For every team playing here, it is difficult to collect points, but we will try.”
“For me, the most important thing is that we play according to our style and with confidence. I believe that we have grown [compared to the last season], and that we are not inferior to big teams. This is our moment; we just have to keep faith in our philosophy. We have to play our football and do it in the best possible way. We have some key players out injured and it is a great pity for the team, but we have others to come in for them.”
Unlike many other teams who “park the bus” against FC Barcelona, Ajax are expected to play their natural game and young players with huge potential, like Schöne and El Ghazi, have the ability to create some problems for Barcelona defence.
Probable Line-up 4-3–3: Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Viergever; Klaassen, Zimling, Andersen; Schöne, Sigthórsson, El Ghazi.
Player to watch out for:
The Brazilian striker is in excellent goal scoring form at the moment and he is expected to cause all sorts of problems for relatively inexperienced defence of Ajax.
FC Barcelona 3 – Ajax 1
This FC Barcelona side looks very powerful than Dutch champions Ajax and they are expected to score at least three goals tonight.