While Frank de Boer is curious to see how his AFC Ajax team compare with Olympique Lyonnais, visiting coach Remi Garde knows exactly what to expect when the French side kick off their Group D campaign in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Coach Frank de Boer
Playing in the UEFA Champions League is the most beautiful thing there is for a player; that is what you come to Ajax for. That is what you try to get across to the players. If you want to recognition at international level, and most players do, then this is the best stage to act on.
The French league is a bit underrated in the Netherlands, but I rate it very highly; they have three teams in the Champions League. Lyon are among the strongest teams in France, so I am curious to see how big the difference between Lyon and Ajax is.
Saturday: Heracles Almelo 2-3 Ajax
(Overtoom 32, Plet 89; De Jong 45+2 64, Sulejmani 81)
Vermeer; Van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Boilesen; De Jong, Janssen (Anita 71), Eriksen; Sulejmani, Sigthórsson (Enoh 82), Boerrigter (Ebecilio 66)
• Substitute Lorenzo Ebecilio was sent off in added time as Frank de Boer's team stretched their unbeaten run to 11 Eredivisie matches, winning ten, since a 3-2 loss at ADO Den Haag on 20 March.
Aras Özbiliz has not played this season because of a back injury, but De Boer said his players came through the Heracles game unscathed. "Some players, like Kolbeinn [Sigthórsson] have minor complaints, but they can get over them," he added.
Coach Remi Garde
Ajax have played an attacking game for quite a while now and they are always faithful to their principles so we know what to we expect and we will have options on the counterattack. Ajax are well organised, have plenty of movement, good positional play, a lot of possession: they want to cause trouble to opponents, and despite a lot of changes [this summer] they are already a real team.
The first match sets the tone so this is very important, but not decisive. It is important to win our first match, but this is just the start. Real Madrid are group favourites, and our goal is simply to qualify. You never known in football, though, and plenty of favourites have failed to get through before. We just have to look forward to it. [Beating FC Rubin Kazan in the play-offs], despite the pressure, makes the will to win even bigger. The team are looking forward to it.
Saturday: Dijon 1-2 Lyon
(Corgnet 43; Gonalons 7, Gomis 53)
Lloris; Réveillère, Koné, Lovren, Cissokho; Källström, Gonalons, Bastos, Briand (Belfodil 88); Gomis, Pied (Grenier 71)
• Bafétimbi Gomis' fourth goal of the campaign in all competitions helped Lyon extend their unbeaten start to the season to seven games.
Lisandro (sprained ankle, out since 27 August) and Cris (hamstring, 15 August) will be out until the end of October while Ederson (knee) and Yoann Gourcuff (ankle) are yet to play this season because of long-term injuries.
Ajax, who are competing in the UEFA Champions League for the tenth time, faced French opponents in last season's group stage, both games against AJ Auxerre ending in 2-1 wins for the home team.
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