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Auxerre meet Ajax in last-chance saloon

After starting Group C with three successive defeats, Jean Fernandez admits it is now or never for his AJ Auxerre team as they prepare to welcome AFC Ajax to the Stade Abbé-Deschamps.

Auxerre meet Ajax in last-chance saloon
Auxerre meet Ajax in last-chance saloon ©UEFA.com

Jean Fernandez admits Wednesday presents AJ Auxerre's "last chance" to kick-start their European campaign after three successive Group G defeats as they welcome AFC Ajax to the Stade Abbé-Deschamps. A 2-1 loss in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, despite André Ooijer's dismissal ten minutes after half-time for the hosts, left them four points adrift of their opponents and AC Milan at the foot of the section.

Jean Fernandez, Auxerre coach
This match is our last chance. We need to win it although even if do it'll still be difficult to qualify for the next round. If we beat Ajax we might be in a position to think about the UEFA Europa League. We just want to play well and get a good result. We played quite well in the first three games but were a bit unlucky. If we can get a win then anything might still be possible. We played well in Amsterdam and were close to recovering from 2-0 down.

We're on a good run now having won three straight games and we feel our luck is changing; we have a chance. We've shown from the start in the UEFA Champions League that we can compete with our prestigious opponents. We've just lacked a bit of quality in attack. These teams can win the game with one move, which isn't the case for us. We're gaining experience. We've got two home games left and we want to take as many points from them as possible.

Martin Jol, Ajax coach
We will have to remain calm and avoid any red cards because it was very difficult to play ten against 11 last time out. I don't need reminding that Auxerre were very good in the first half. Indeed, they are in very good form at the moment and we are aware of their strengths. They are at home, too, which is a good asset for them.

The pressure is on Auxerre, who will need to win if they want to stay in the UEFA Champions League but we will play for the three points: we are not aiming for third place.

Team news
Dennis Oliech is suspended and Alain Traoré has been ruled out with an  adductor problem. Anthony Le Tallec, Steeven Langil (both ankle) and Ireneusz Jeleń (knee) have missed recent fixtures along with long-term absentees Alexandre Licata (ankle) and Yaya Sanogo (broken tibia).

Ooijer is banned while striker Mido misses out through illness so 19-year-old forward Forian Jozefzoon is drafted into the squad. Demy de Zeeuw returns following a muscle complaint though defender Oleguer, who had not played since breaking his nose against Auxerre a fortnight ago, could miss out.

Weekend results
30/10/10 Auxerre 2-0 OGC Nice
(Birsa 43, Pedretti 78)
Auxerre ended a seven-game run without a league win at home, dating back to 17 April. Benoît Pedretti scored his fifth league goal of the season – one more than his previous best return last term.

30/10/10 Heracles Almelo 1–4 Ajax 
(Overtoom 38; El Hamdaoui 16, Lindgren 55, Ooijer 78, Sulejmani 81)
Mounir El Hamdaoui's goal against Heracles took his tally to 11 in as many games for club and country. Rasmus Lindgren and Miralem Sulejmani both found the net for the first time in the Eredivisie this term.

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 but lost 3-1 at Stade Abbé-Deschamps.

For more information see the match background.