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Swiss side FC Thun hope to get back on track after a rollercoaster ride in recent matches when they entertain AFC Ajax in the UEFA Champions League at the Stade de Suisse in Berne on Wednesday.
Thun have been a model of inconsistency in domestic encounters lately. They lost 6-1 at home to FC Zürich at the weekend, having scored 12 goals in their previous two outings against FC St. Gallen and fifth-division Swiss Cup opponents FC Perly-Certoux.
Defender José Gonçalves admits Thun have a point to prove against Ajax, who are just one point above them in Group B. "The result was emphatic against Zürich," said Gonçalves. "They played better than us and we made mistakes up front and in defence. If you make those kinds of mistake you get punished, even more so in the [UEFA] Champions League. But we have been training hard to put these mistakes right and we can recover."
Thun will again be without captain Andres Gerber as he continues to struggle with an achilles problem, though they welcome back midfielder Tiago Bernardini. Selver Hodzic, whose last-gasp goal against AC Sparta Praha on Matchday 2 earned Thun's first-ever win in the competition, remains doubtful with a knee injury.
Ajax won 2-0 when the sides met at the Amsterdam ArenA two weeks ago, and Thun coach Urs Schönenberger is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead. "We were beaten in Amsterdam because we made too many mistakes and we can't afford to repeat them," he said. "If your opponent gives you opportunities to score, you must take them.
"Ajax are a very strong side. You only have to look at the players they have to see that. They have so many classy players on the pitch and their bench is full of class players too. Our main priority is to avoid defeat, but we know that if we get three points we will move up to second in the group."
Ajax enter the contest looking to end a barren run in front of goal, which has seen them fail to score in three domestic games. Yet coach Danny Blind remains unconcerned by this lack of firepower. "Our lack of goals is not a worry because the only worry a coach can have is that his team is not playing good football," he said. "We have been playing well in the last five or six matches and created a lot of chances. We have just been a bit unlucky."
However, the former Dutch international, who is without Hatem Trabelsi and Angelos Charisteas due to hamstring injuries, remains wary of the threat posed by a determined Thun. The hosts are undefeated at their adopted home, the Stade de Suisse, in this European campaign. "Some people wrote Thun's chances off when they qualified for the [UEFA] Champions League, but they do not know Thun. This is a side that beat FC Dynamo Kyiv in the qualifying stages, so they are a very tough opponent for us.
"It is a home game for Thun, so maybe they will attack a bit more, but I think the organisation of the team will be the same. They are compact and well organised, making them tough to beat. They will have the support of a big crowd who love Thun and will back them 100 per cent. This can be an extra motivation for them."
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