AJ Auxerre head to Amsterdam seeking a first Group G point but knowing they must contain an AFC Ajax side boasting the free-scoring Luis Suárez and Mounir El Hamdaoui.
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With 25 goals for club and country between them already this season, Luis Suárez and Mounir El Hamdaoui were the focus in the build-up to Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Group G game between third-placed AFC Ajax and bottom side AJ Auxerre. Visiting coach Jean Fernandez has warned his side not to give the Uruguayan Suárez "one millimetre of space".
Martin Jol, Ajax coach
Auxerre are a bit like Ajax. It started with Guy Roux, with their own culture, with young players. They have stayed on the right track with their own youth academy, with young lads breaking through into the first team. They have their own style, and have done great so far. They have a good solid team with a number of quality players.
[Suárez and El Hamdaoui] both have been involved in a lot of goals. We had five players leave to get one goalscorer back. Also Suárez was interesting top clubs, and if that had happened, we would have had Mounir in his place. Now they are playing together and they have not taken much time to adjust.
Jean Fernandez, Auxerre coach
It does not matter if you are playing your first match or if you are at the end of the campaign, the pressure stays the same in exciting games like this. We lost our first two matches so we have to be realistic. It will not be easy to finish second, but in football everything is possible. We also have four or five injured players which doesn't help, so it is going to be tough.
Playing in two competitions is physically and mentally tough, but we want to give everything in every match. Ajax have only lost against FC Utrecht [in the league] this season and that proves how strong they are. Suárez and El Hamdaoui form a very strong attacking pair who are very dangerous. Against Suárez we have to be very focused, keep two players tight on him and not give him one millimetre of space.
Teemu Tainio (hamstring) was on the bench against NAC Breda on Saturday, Nicolás Lodeiro (broken foot) resumed full training last week, while Evander Sno is back to lighter duties after having an internal defibrillator fitted to resolve a heart problem. Siem de Jong (hamstring), Vurnon Anita (calf), Thimothée Atouba (knee) and Kenneth Vermeer (Achilles) remain out of action.
Steeven Langil was ruled out for three weeks after picking up an ankle injury in training last week. Jean-Pascal Mignot missed the weekend game against FC Girondins de Bordeaux with a groin problem but should be fit. Alain Traoré (hamstring) and Ireneusz Jeleń (knee) also have injuries, while Alexandre Licata (ankle), Anthony Le Tallec (ankle) and Yaya Sanogo (broken leg) are long-term absentees.
16/10/10 Ajax 3-0 NAC Breda
(Vertonghen 16, El Hamdaoui 30, Suárez 79)
El Hamdaoui has struck seven goals in his last seven games for club and country. Strike partner Suárez has scored 11 in as many matches. Mido made his first appearance since rejoining from Middlesbrough FC in the summer.
16/10/10 Auxerre 0-1 FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Bordeaux played the last 20 minutes with ten men following Alou Diarra's dismissal, but Auxerre's wait for their first home league win of the season continues. The Bordeaux defeat was Fernandez's 500th French top-flight game as a coach.
Did you know?
Ronald Koeman stepped down as Ajax coach after Auxerre came out on top when the clubs last met in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup round of 32. Ajax won the first leg 1-0 through a Maxwell goal but went down 3-1 at Stade Abbé-Deschamps. Although Ryan Babel cancelled out Bonaventure Kalou's opening strike, Auxerre prevailed through second-half efforts from Benoît Cheyrou and Lionel Mathis.
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