Frank de Boer has "a positive feeling" about AFC Ajax's UEFA Champions League prospects as they meet a GNK Dinamo Zagreb side still searching for a first Group D point.
Article top media content
Only three points will do for Frank de Boer as AFC Ajax play host to a GNK Dinamo Zagreb side whom they beat 2-0 in Croatia on matchday three. The coach is hoping a win coupled with a Real Madrid CF victory against Olympique Lyonnais will leave the Amsterdam club handily placed to secure second place in Group D.
Coach Frank de Boer
Zagreb are still a team with a lot of quality. We have to be sharp and certainly won't underestimate them, despite us winning 2-0 there. We played pretty well there, and dominated the match, but they still had three good chances that they didn't profit from.
We're trying to make progress every week. Usually we go into the Europa League at the end of the group stage, but we want more, so we want to grab the three points. Real Madrid are also eager to win against Lyon, and if that happens then things will be in our own hands, and the away match against Lyon would be crucial. We want to be in Europe after the winter, and preferably in the Champions League; if we do that we can be proud, and I have a positive feeling about it.
It is possible [that we will play 3-4-3]. Dinamo played with two forwards against us, but in the first two games they played with three. I believe Barcelona also play with three defenders. If you field four defenders, two of them do not have a direct opponent, so they have to think several steps ahead. In the Ajax youth department we always play with three defenders if the opponent fields two forwards, so it is not a difficult syetem for the players to implement.
Saturday: Roda JC 0-4 Ajax (Eriksen 6, Janssen 50, Lukoki 57, Ebecilio 85)
Vermeer; Alderweireld, Ooijer, Vertonghen; Anita, Eriksen, Enoh, Janssen (Blind 81); Lukoki (Özbiliz 78), De Jong, Boerrigter (Ebecilio 59)
• Jody Lukoki, 18, scored the first goal of his professional career as Ajax gained their first Eredivisie win since 10 September. The clean sheet was their first in domestic competition in 19 games.
Lorenzo Ebecilio (hamstring) and Aras Özbiliz (ankle) returned to action on Saturday. Nicolai Boilesen (hamstring) and Thulani Serero (stomach muscle) have been sidelined, while Kolbeinn Sigthórssonis out until next year with an ankle injury. Miralem Sulejmani is back in contention after shaking off a groin injury.
Coach Krunoslav Jurčić
We are happy to be in Amsterdam, although we're still feeling the defeat from two weeks ago. I will repeat again that it was great we were able to qualify for the Champions League. It's a huge experience for us, and it's extremely important for me and my players.
We have a lot of young players in our team and it's very important that they play a lot of matches at this level to help them continually improve and go on to play a big part in future Champions League seasons. Obviously we are not only here to gain experience, but also want to pick up points and present the city and Croatia in a good light so we can return home tomorrow night well satisfied.
In Zagreb we played attacking football after analysing Ajax's matches – especially in the first part of the game. That is why it's important for us to get more experience in the Champions League so we learn to play at this level. Like every match we want to win. Ajax won in Zagreb, so the Ajax coach has to prevent his players from underestimating us. We lost then, so we are more motivated. We have to prove the loss in Zagreb was the result of a bad day, and that we can do better.
Saturday: NK Istra 0-2 Dinamo (Beqiraj 45, Krstanović 73)
Kelava; Cufré, Vida, Šimunić, Ibáñez; Leko, Badelj, Kovačić (Pokrivač 72),Sammir (Ademi 80); Beqiraj, Krstanović (Šitum 87)
• Krunoslav Jurčić's side kept their ninth clean sheet in the league this season. They have conceded just five goals in 13 top-flight games.
Tonel has not travelled because of his hamstring injury, though Arijan Ademi is back following ankle ligament damage. Mehmed Alispahić (broken arm), Mathias Chago (back) and Igor Bišćan (ankle) remain sidelined, while Šime Vrsaljko is in the squad despite missing the last two games with a knee problem.
The clubs met in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League group stage, drawing 0-0 in Zagreb before Velimir Zajec's Dinamo beat Morten Olsen's Ajax 1-0 in Amsterdam.