GNK Dinamo Zagreb coach Krunoslav Jurčić says AFC Ajax "are the one club in our group that we can play against" as the Group D rivals both go in search of their first victory.
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GNK Dinamo Zagreb coach Krunoslav Jurčić hopes Tuesday's home UEFA Champions League game against AFC Ajax will see his side get off the mark in Group D, but visiting boss Frank De Boer also has this down as a must-win game.
Coach Krunoslav Jurčić
Our expectations are high. In our calculations, we planned to get some points against Ajax and we will do everything we can to achieve that. We are playing at home in front of our fans, so we need an element of aggression in this match. I have been in charge for two matches against Ajax and we lost both, so I don't have fond memories, but Dinamo have beaten Ajax before.
Dinamo played aggressively when they beat Ajax before and our game tomorrow will be like that. At this high level, we can't afford not to score from some of the chances that we will get. We are optimistic because Ajax are the one club in our group that we can play against and we are counting on getting some points.
Friday: NK Zadar 2-1 GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Begonja 39, Santini 56; Beqiraj 15)
Kelava; Leko, Vida, Tonel, Cufré (Kovačić 60); Calello, Badelj, Tomečak (Ibáñez 46), Sammir; Beqiraj, Krstanović (Rukavina 82)
• Dinamo had made a ten-game unbeaten league start prior to Friday, but the only team to defeat them at home this term are Real Madrid CF on matchday one.
Right-back Šime Vrsaljko serves the last of his three-game suspension. Captain Milan Badelj (adductor) and Mateo Kovačić (groin) worked out separately on Sunday but are back in full training and the coach is confident they will pass fitness tests. The long-term absentees are Arijan Ademi (ankle ligaments), Mehmed Alispahić (broken arm), Igor Bišćan (ankle) and Mathias Chago (back). In-form Fatos Beqiraj scored his fifth goal in four games on Friday despite illness.
Coach Frank de Boer
This is a very important match and we have to win it. We always play to win in the Champions League. We have a good team and they are all ready to show some class in Zagreb. We need to play a more attacking game; the atmosphere is very good and positive in the team, but we are aware that this match could be crucial if we are survive the group stage.
It will be a mental test, but the players will certainly try to give a good account of themselves, especially considering how important the match is. I know how good Dinamo Zagreb are; they have a lot of talented youngsters and Sammir is a very good Brazilian.
Saturday: AFC Ajax 2-2 AZ Alkmaar (Sulejmani 47pen, Janssen 82; Homan 14, Beerens 22)
Vermeer (Cillessen 67); Alderweireld, Ooijer (Ligeon 46), Vertonghen, Anita; Enoh, Eriksen (Bulykin 80), Janssen; Sulejmani, De Jong, Boerrigter
• Ajax have only one win from seven competitive games but Saturday's draw against the leaders was achieved despite Eyong Enoh's 20th-minute red card. Ruben Ligeon made his club debut at right-back in the second half.
Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer was replaced by Jasper Cillessen 67 minutes in on Saturday because of a stomach problem, but De Boer hopes he will be fit to play on Tuesday. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and Aras Özbiliz are out with ankle injuries and Nicolai Boilesen has a torn hamstring. Mats Ritsis is back in training following an ankle injury.
The teams last crossed paths in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage when Ajax won 2-1 at home and 2-0 away, their first-half goals in Zagreb coming from Marko Pantelić and Demy De Zeeuw.