Real Madrid CF beat AFC Ajax 2-0 at home and 4-0 away in last season's group stage, but will be without suspended coach José Mourinho as they take on the Dutch champions in Group D. Visiting boss Frank de Boer is eager for his side to show a marked improvement on those last meetings.
Assistant coach Aitor Karanka
Our supporters always get behind us at the Santiago Bernabéu, especially in the Champions League – we are all pulling in the same direction, aiming at the same target. We have played three matches in a week but the players and technical staff remain united. Everything is always easier when you are united. Ajax are a better team this year than they were last season. They have been working together for years and we are braced for a tough match.
Saturday: Real Madrid 6-2 Rayo Vallecano de Madrid (Ronaldo 39 51pen 84pen, Higuaín 45+1, Varane 67, Benzema 73; Michu 1 55)
Casillas; Ramos, Varane, Albiol, Marcelo; Di María, Diarra (Özil 29), Alonso, Kaká (Khedira 59), Ronaldo; Higuaín (Benzema 59)
• Cristiano Ronaldo, who struck a Liga record 40 goals in 2010/11, registered his second hat-trick this term. He has scored ten in his last eight appearances for club and country. Ángel Di María was sent off just before the hour, with Raphael Varane later scoring his first Madrid goal.
Pepe (left thigh) and Fábio Coentrão (left calf) will miss the Ajax match through injury. Marcelo, like coach Mourinho, is banned but Ricardo Carvalho, who missed the win over Rayo with concussion, is available. Hamit Altıntop is nearing a return after a back injury that has so far denied him a debut.
Coach Frank de Boer
If we play according to our beliefs and lose, I would be satisfied. If we are afraid like last year it will be a massacre. Our philosophy is to dominate and press forward but we are not dumb. We have been playing together for a year and that's important. We have a lot of class and the team has grown up in the last year. We have to keep the ball to get chances.
Mourinho was a friend when I played at Barcelona. I spoke with [FC Barcelona coach Josep] Guardiola about this match because he knows Real Madrid well. Barcelona have an amazing squad – [they are] a team from another world. Real Madrid are improving but Barcelona are still the best team in the world.
Saturday: Ajax 1-1 FC Twente (Sulejmani 10; De Jong 87)
Vermeer; Van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita; De Jong, Eriksen, Janssen; Sulejmani (Enoh 63), Sigthórsson (Bulykin 81), Boerrigter
• De Boer's team stretched their unbeaten run to 13 Eredivisie matches, but their ten-game winning streak at home in the Eredivisie ended. Ajax have not kept a clean sheet in domestic competition in 14 outings.
Nicolai Boilesen is out with a hamstring injury but Miralem Sulejmani (hamstring) and Vurnon Anita (ankle) both returned to action against Twente. Aras Özbiliz (ankle) Mats Rits (ankle) and Bruno Silva (shoulder) are out of contention.
Before last season Ajax were the dominant force in encounters between the sides; indeed they still have four wins to Madrid's three, with the other match drawn.
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